MSc thesis subject: Optimizing UAV based LiDAR flight planning using the HELIOS simulator

Since early 2017, Wageningen UR has a UAV based LiDAR system operational, the RiCopter VUX-SYS. This platform is designed for high detail scanning of the 3D structure of different objects, where part of our research will focus on the application of this system for forestry research.

The density of the pointcloud that is acquired depends on the height and speed at which the system is flown, in combination with the scanner settings. With a higher speed and height we will cover more terrain, but with a lower density. One of the questions is how this influences the calculation of different forestry metrics, up to the level of individual tree parameters.

Flights above forested terrain are always risky. Therefore, we limit them to what is necessary. Fortunately, the outcome of the scanning can also be modelled, using HELIOS (Heidelberg LiDAR Operations Simulator) ( This allows modelling of many different scenarios and can help us to determine which choices to make for flight path optimisation.


  • Implement the RiCOPTER VUX-SYS in the HELIOS simulation software.
    Analyse how different acquisition setups influence the quality of UAV-based LiDAR data.
  • Investigate how the different acquisition setups influence derived forestry parameters.
  • Define optimal flight path designs for RiCOPTER VUX-SYS acquisitions.

Theme(s): Sensing and measuring