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Airsight Australia launches NextCore: ‘giant killing’ UAV LiDAR system

By on 8 August, 2018

Point cloud captured with the NextCore system on a DJI M600 Pro in a single flight. Image provided by Airsight Australia.

RPAS service provider Airsight Australia has announced NextCore, a UAV LiDAR scanner and processing system that offers comparable performance at a considerably lower price point than rivals.

Whilst aerial LiDAR is a mature technology and proven acquisition tool, the market for UAV-borne LiDAR is expanding rapidly as makers scramble to develop highly accurate scanners in a UAV-specific form factor.

The benefits of UAV LiDAR surveys over UAV-based photogrammetry are as for those in manned aerial surveys: the ability to model large areas without capturing enormous amounts of excess data, excellent tree penetration to create high-quality terrain models under tree canopies, and the ability to capture linear assets with far less overlap.

Today Airsight Australia, a provider of RPAS services for industrial asset and surveying applications, have released their own entrant in the space, one that they claim holds a unique position.

NextCore LiDAR payload mounted on a DJI M600 Pro. Image provided by Airsight Australia.

The NextCore scanner is a 2.5-kilogram UAV payload that can acquire 420,000 points per second with a 360-degree field of view and triple returns. Airsight Australia claims it is easily securable to a DJI Matrice 600, which is good for around 20 minutes of flight time with the NextCore payload.

Nick Smith, CEO of Airsight Australia, said that the decision to develop a unit in house came directly from their own experience with existing offerings as an RPAS operator.

“We looked at the LiDAR payload options available for Unmanned Aerial Systems and quickly realised that there was nothing on the market that could deliver the quality we needed at a price that we could pass on to our clients. So we built something that would suit both our and our customers’ needs,” he said.

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Airsight Australia said that the NextCore system is unique in the space as it uses much lower cost hardware that then increases accuracy in the automated post-processing system. This is facilitated by the inclusion of a highly accurate IMU (inertial measurement unit) and GPS, which allows a lower-spec laser unit to be used, considerably reducing costs.

The company claims that their post-acquisition workflow and data pipeline is highly automated and user-friendly.

“We’ve designed the system so that users aren’t required to be GIS data specialists, the system will upload the data and deliver a quality result downloadable from our cloud system,” said Aaron Hoye, Airsight Australia CTO.

The NextCore unit will be on display at the Rise Above stand at the World of Drones Congress in Brisbane, on both Thursday (9th) and Friday (10th) of August. It will be distributed through Rise Above and Global Pos.

NextCore LiDAR payload on a DJI M600 Pro in flight. Image provided by Airsight Australia.

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