The Complete Guide To LIDAR Indoor Mapping

The Complete Guide to Lidar Indoor Mapping

Mapping technology has evolved over the years from approximate measures of distance and location to highly accurate and versatile representations of spaces. Mapping technology also now boasts the ability to generate highly detailed indoor maps that can be extremely useful to businesses and residences alike. This post will explore LiDAR mapping and its uses in creating comprehensive indoor maps.

LiDAR Technology and Applications

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging and it is a mapping technique that uses laser light to measure distances and create 3D models of objects and surfaces. In the context of mapping, LIDAR technology is used to create accurate and detailed topographical maps of landscapes, buildings, and other objects.

A LiDAR system works by emitting a laser beam that bounces off objects and returns to the sensor. The time it takes for the laser to return is used to calculate the distance between the sensor and the object. By scanning the laser across an area and measuring the distances to many different points, a LIDAR system can create a detailed 3D model of terrain, buildings, and other objects in the area.

LiDAR mapping is used in a variety of applications, including urban planning, surveying, natural resource management, and environmental monitoring. It can be used to create detailed maps of terrain, forests, and waterways, to monitor changes in coastal erosion, to assess the impact of climate change, and to plan infrastructure projects.

Industries Using LiDAR

Five industries that uniquely benefit from LiDAR technology are:

Clearly, the applications for outdoor LiDAR mapping are abundant. However as mentioned above, this post will hone in on the benefits of LiDAR mapping for indoor use.

How Does Indoor LiDAR Mapping Work?

LiDAR technology creates highly precise 3D models of indoor spaces using the same laser method implemented in outdoor map creation.

Here are the basic steps involved in using LiDAR for indoor mapping:

  1. Mount the LiDAR sensor: The LiDAR sensor is typically mounted on a tripod or a mobile platform, such as a handheld device or a robot.
  2. Scan the area: The LiDAR sensor emits laser pulses that bounce off surfaces and objects in the environment. The sensor then records the time it takes for the laser pulses to return to the sensor, allowing it to calculate the distance to each object.
  3. Generate a point cloud: The LiDAR data is processed to create a point cloud, which is a set of 3D points that represent the location of each object in the environment.
  4. Create a 3D model: The point cloud is used to create a 3D model of the indoor space. This can be done using specialized software that can segment the point cloud into different objects, such as walls, floors, and furniture.
  5. Add texture and color: Once the 3D model is created, it can be overlaid with texture and color to make it more realistic.
  6. Use the data: The resulting 3D model can be used for a variety of purposes, such as creating floor plans, assessing building conditions, and planning renovations.

Overall, LiDAR can be a powerful tool for creating highly accurate and detailed indoor maps. It can provide a level of precision that is difficult to achieve with other methods, making it ideal for applications such as building information modeling (BIM) and facility management.

Is LiDAR better than photogrammetry?

It is not accurate to say that LiDAR is better than photogrammetry or vice versa as they are two different technologies with different strengths and weaknesses, and are used for different purposes. The method they each use to produce maps is also very different.

LiDAR is effective at creating highly accurate and detailed 3D models of terrain, structures, and objects using lasers to take measurements. On the other hand, photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs. It involves using images captured from multiple angles to create a 3D model. Photogrammetry is commonly used in fields such as archaeology, architecture, and film and video game development.

Both LiDAR and photogrammetry have their own strengths and weaknesses. LiDAR is better at capturing precise measurements of surfaces and objects, even in low light and dense vegetation, while photogrammetry is better at capturing detailed textures and colors of objects. Additionally, photogrammetry requires less equipment and is generally less expensive than LiDAR.

Ultimately, the choice between LiDAR and photogrammetry depends on the specific project requirements, budget, and end goal of what you are hoping to use the indoor maps for. In some cases, it is common to use both technologies in conjunction to take advantage of their complementary strengths.

What Data Does LiDAR Collect

What data does LiDAR collect?

LiDAR collects a plethora of meaningful data to create useful maps. Some examples of the data collected include: 

  • 3D geometry: In order to create the digital replica of the real space, LiDAR collects information about the shape and size of objects in the environment, including furniture, hallways, rooms, and even people.
  • Distance and elevation: LiDAR measures the distance from the sensor to objects in the building and their height.
  • Reflectivity: LiDAR also measures the reflectivity of objects in the environment, which helps to identify different materials and surface types.
  • Intensity: LiDAR measures the intensity of the laser pulses that bounce back from objects in the environment, which can be used to create a grayscale image that shows the relative reflectance of different objects.
  • Point cloud data: LiDAR produces a dense point cloud of 3D coordinates that represent the location of objects in the building.

All of this data is captured and processed by the LiDAR sensors, which is then transferred to a mapping software to create the map to your desired specifications. Companies like Maptelligent specialize in taking the data from LiDAR sensors and creating highly usable maps. 

How accurate is LiDAR mapping?

LiDAR mapping is considered to be highly accurate; but the accuracy depends on several factors, including the density and quality of the LiDAR data, the accuracy of the GPS positioning system used to locate the LiDAR sensor, and the expertise of the data processing team.

LiDAR mapping for indoor spaces can be very accurate, with the ability to measure distances down to millimeter-level precision.

LiDAR can also struggle with accurately mapping shiny or reflective surfaces, as the light pulses can reflect off these surfaces in unpredictable ways. Additionally, LiDAR systems typically have a limited field of view, which can make it difficult to map large or complex indoor spaces accurately. LiDAR can sometimes struggle in highly complex indoor environments, and the presence of obstructions that may interfere with the LiDAR signals.

Despite these limitations, LiDAR remains a powerful tool for indoor mapping, and with advances in technology and algorithms, the accuracy and reliability of LiDAR mapping for indoor spaces continue to improve. Furthermore, if you are working with LiDAR experts, they can help overcome accuracy barriers with the technology to create the detailed maps you’re looking for.

The Takeaway

So, why consider using LiDAR for indoor mapping? Among other benefits, the technology is highly accurate, very quick and efficient, non-invasive in your space, and versatile in many types of buildings. It can accurately measure a range of structural features and textures, and easily observe color information. As a result, you have highly usable maps that can inform and improve how you use your space.

Overall, LiDAR technology offers a powerful and versatile tool for 3D indoor mapping. If you’d like to learn more about using LiDAR, reach out to our team at Maptelligent today!

Rich Ziccardi

About Rich Ziccardi

Mr. Richard Ziccardi is a financial professional with over thirty years of experience in Banking, Insurance and Investments with a business focus on financial products. During his working career, Mr. Ziccardi held various roles including, but not limited to: LOB Controller, Product Manager, Chief of Staff, CAO, and Global Head of Revenue and RFP Pricing. Most recently, Mr. Ziccardi spent 19 years at Bank of New York Mellon in Asset Servicing.