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RedTail Launches Lidar System for Small Drones

RedTail Lidar 400x275

August 11, 2021

RedTail Lidar Systems, which develops microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) mirror-based lidar technology, has announced the launch of the RTL-450 lidar sensor, which can be utilized on small drones for surveillance and mapping purposes. The product will be demonstrated at the Xponential 2021 trade show, which is being held in Atlanta from Aug. 16-19.

The RTL-450 incorporates a lightweight MEMS mirror and a precision navigation system to generate accurate data for aerial surveying missions. The high-resolution, 3D point clouds created by the RTL-450 give operators the ability to conduct advanced analytics of geographic and manmade features on the earth’s surface.

The system, which is designed and assembled in the U.S., incorporates patented lidar sensor technology to achieve its performance, said RedTail. The system weighs in at just over four pounds, and is designed to operate independently of a drone platform, allowing for flexibility for drone integration. The modular design facilitates quick and efficient integration onto user-selected platforms, the company said. So far, the RTL-450 has been integrated onto the FLIR SkyRaider, Freefly Alta-8, 4D-x6, DJI Matrice 300 and DJI Matrice 600. The system’s software interface and online training curriculum lets operators be up and running in no time, the company added.

The system operates in a raster scan mode for surveillance missions, and a side-to-side line scan mode for area mapping. The command and control system and high-brightness display integrated into the ground control station lets operators monitor and optimize data collection missions.

“We are thrilled to introduce RedTail Lidar Systems’ RTL-450,” said Brad DeRoos, president and CEO of the company. “This lidar system has been enhanced for use on a wide variety of small, user selected drones. The innovative MEMS mirror technology ensures that drone operators create one of the best, high-quality point clouds in the industry.”

The company said the point clouds, generated at a rate of up to 400,000 pulses per second and five returns per pulse, are extremely well suited for military, first-responder, and commercial applications. This includes mission planning, battle damage assessment, force protection, emergency response, remote surveillance, construction and resource management, and infrastructure development. 

redtail lidar pointcloud

Details contained within the 3D lidar images also make them ideal for use in artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms for the autonomous detection and classification of objects of interest with no human intervention required. Because the 3D point clouds are created using the light from the pulsed laser, images can be collected in both daytime and nighttime environments. In addition, because the system can receive up to five returns from every light pulse transmitted, this enhances through canopy light transmission, allowing the ground to be imaged even under heavily foliated conditions. RedTail said this capability cannot be provided by photogrammetric imaging techniques.

For more details on the company’s lidar solutions, visit its website here.

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