Since January 2017, the UARSF is operating a Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for Laser Scanning. The Riegl RiCOPTER is a LiDAR based system which allows the collection of detailed and precise 3D models of objects at the earth surface.
A large number of flight campaigns has already been executed for applications like mapping of fruit trees, phenotyping of height for maize and wheat, and digital terrain modelling of nature areas. Since this week, the first paper based on the point cloud data from the RiCOPTER instrument has been published. This paper presents a forestry study which compares Canopy Height and Diameter Breast Height (DBH) derived from the RiCOPTER UAV LiDAR with Terrestrial LiDAR. For this study, we scanned the same forest plots with both systems over the course of two days for the Speuldersbos Cal/Val site on the Veluwe in the Netherlands. We derived Digital Terrain Model (DTMs), Digital Surface Model (DSMs) and finally Canopy Height Model (CHMs) from the resulting point clouds. We conclude that RiCOPTER has the potential to perform comparable to TLS for estimating forest canopy height and DBH under the studied forest conditions. Further research should be directed to testing UAV-borne LiDAR for explicit 3D modelling of whole trees to estimate tree volume and subsequently Above-Ground Biomass (AGB).