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3 Questions with Sebastien Long

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Photonics Media spoke with Sebastien Long, a sales representative at Microdrones. Staff at Microdrones are geospatial mapping pros and they recently launched a reality show, “Down to Earth,” about lidar and surveying.

Long has been a regional sales manager at Microdrones since 2014 and covers Canada and the U.S. Midwest/Northeast territories. He has worked more than 20 years in sales, business development, and customer service, and holds a professional manned aviation pilot’s license.

How have lidars and VTOLs advanced over the past five years?

The recent advancement in the integration of lidars and VTOLs [vertical takeoff and landing aircraft] evolved from the miniaturization of sensors and the development of smaller components that were once only made for airplanes or manned aviation. Today, though, we can fly VTOLs very easily. And, because of miniaturization and portability, geospatial professionals have easy access to fully integrated drone-and-sensor systems that enable the acquisition of professional survey-grade data. Lidars and VTOLs have become a regular part of construction, mining, engineering, precision agriculture, oil and gas, and surveying companies, just like any other tool.

What types of imaging systems do VTOLs carry, and what can they detect and process?

Small VTOLs integrate sensors and lidar and are paired with high-resolution cameras. Cameras may range from 5 to 100 MP. A VTOL can be customized to carry one of several different types of systems. For example, for corridor mapping tasks, a drone system we designed integrated a RIEGL miniVUX-1DL, where “DL” stands for “downward looking” with an optimized field of view. VTOLs are great tools for ultrahigh-resolution projects, too. It’s possible to achieve 1-pixel mapping accuracy from a 1000-ft drone flight height. We recently purpose-built a system for professionals responsible for inspecting methane gas infrastructure. It has an onboard HD video link, which means the user can see in real time what is being detected with the laser sensor.

Lidar plays a leading role in your new reality show. Is lidar ready to make its public debut?

“Down to Earth” is a new reality series we’re presenting that looks at the challenges and hazards faced by surveying crews. It’s a fun, behind-the-scenes look into the world of surveying and the ways surveyors are using UAV technology. It also showcases how data deliverables and integrated systems can create things like 3D point clouds, orthomosaics, or methane inspection concern maps. The show is not only engaging, it’s also educational. We’ve already received feedback from surveyors who’ve watched and seen how drone lidar will help them on certain jobs and projects. It’s all about real surveyors overcoming difficult field challenges and collecting great data!

Nick Tucker of Crafton Tull, an Arkansas-based engineering and surveying company, deploys a UAV equipped with lidar to collect data for a 3D digital data set and point cloud visualization. Courtesy of Microdrones.

Nick Tucker of Crafton Tull, an Arkansas-based engineering and surveying company, deploys a UAV equipped with lidar to collect data for a 3D digital data set and point cloud visualization. Courtesy of Microdrones.

Photonics Spectra
Apr 2020
An acronym of light detection and ranging, describing systems that use a light beam in place of conventional microwave beams for atmospheric monitoring, tracking and detection functions. Ladar, an acronym of laser detection and ranging, uses laser light for detection of speed, altitude, direction and range; it is often called laser radar.
microdroneslidargeospatial mappingdrone-and-sensor systemsLaser Sensorsgas detectionVTOLsvertical take-off and landingorthomosaics3 Questions

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