VTOL fixed-wing UAV mounted-LiDAR maps 2200km for Trans-Sumatra highway construction in Indonesia

eVTOL and UAV LiDAR solutions used for a large-scale survey in Sumatra

One of the biggest challenges of LiDAR surveys is productivity. In what follows, you will realize how efficient can be LiDAR mapping when you use and combine the right tools: UAV and LiDAR system.

Indonesia has a big development program ending in 2024. The plan is to improve road connections throughout the country and its major islands. Hutama Karya, a state-owned company building infrastructures, has been assigned to toll-road construction, on Sumatra island.

In its implementation, Hutama Karya used Quantum-Systems eVTOL UAV Tron which carried the Yellowscan Surveyor Ultra UAV LiDAR sensor payload to map the toll road plan along the island of Sumatra.

Hutama Karya was in charge of mapping and building the full 2200km-long Trans-Sumatra highway connecting Banda Aceh city (north-west) to Bandar Lampung city (south-east). And this is definitely not a small business!

Trans-Sumatra toll-road construction map – Photo credit. Hutama Karya.

Trans-Sumatra toll-road construction – aerial photo – Photo credit. Hutama Karya.

Watch the take-off of Tron UAV combined with Surveyor Ultra LiDAR over a palm tree forest.

How to run a 2.200 km corridor mapping for road construction?

The corridor mapping project was divided into 10km sections, resulting in a minimum plan of 220 flight missions (best-case scenario) and maximum plan of 350 flight missions (worst-case scenario i.e including bad weather conditions, potential UAV or sensors damage and repairs…).

The Surveyor Ultra was flown at 150m AGL, pushing the boundaries of this LiDAR system (AGL flight altitude recommended by YellowScan for Surveyor Ultra is 80m) but still meeting the projects requirements. Flying in low altitude over forested and hilly or even extreme terrains such as Muara Enim, Padang, Bengkulu and Pekanbaru is a real challenge!

In “Muara Enim” area, Tron UAV with Surveyor Ultra was even flown Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) for each survey section (30km-long), as local regulation authorizes it in Indonesia. It was the first time a fixed-wing eVTOL with LiDAR was flown BVLOS in Indonesia!

In short, the 30km corridor mapping in Muara Enim was carried out from 3 take-off and landing points, using a Leica GPS base station on the ground. Even if accuracy was meeting the client expectations, the tricky part was to find the GCP sign initially set up as dense tropical forest was covering it.

The 2200km-long corridor-mapping survey team – Photo credit. Quantum-Systems.
YellowScan Surveyor Ultra integrated in the cockpit of Quantum-Systems Tron UAV – Photo credit. Quantum-Systems.
YellowScan Surveyor Ultra and Quantum-Systems Tron UAV – Photo credit. Quantum-Systems.

Why eVTOL fixed-wing UAV combined with YellowScan Ultra in this huge LiDAR survey project?

Airborne LiDAR was rapidly a dismissed option as using aircrafts for LiDAR mapping is not matching accuracy expectations, targeted costs as well as allowing small partial data acquisition.

Hutama Karya decided to choose UAV LiDAR mapping to meet their requirements and adapt to the project size, dense vegetation (palm tree leaves) and terrain reliefs.

eVTOL fixed-wing UAV allow quick and safe vertical take-off and landing. It is a must when you work in dense vegetation areas like in Indonesia, you do not need much space to fly and data collection starts quickly. On top of that, you can fly higher, faster and much longer than using multi-rotor UAV. It’s the best solution for productivity.

YellowScan Surveyor Ultra UAV LiDAR provides a high point-density with its integrated VLP-32 laser sensor from Velodyne (360° FOV, 32 laser beams, 600.000 pts/sec, up to 2 echoes/returns), which is required when working with tropical forests. Therefore high-speed LiDAR data capture through dense vegetation is made possible with Surveyor Ultra. LiDAR integration in the nose of Quantum-Systems Tron is easy and as a result data collection is fast and accurate.

Flight parameters?

  • Area covered (corridor length): 2.200 km
  • Number of flights: 260
  • Mission duration: 10 months
  • Accuracy obtained: min 5cm (@80m AGL) – max 10cm (@150m AGL)
  • Corridor length per flight: 10-12 km depending on corridor pattern
  • Flight speed: 20m/s
  • Flight altitude: 100-150 m AGL
  • Results: 20 pts/sqm with coverage under vegetation
YellowScan Surveyor Ultra integrated in the cockpit of Quantum-Systems Tron UAV – Photo credit. Quantum-Systems.

The full Trans-Sumatra Toll road mission was a success with no obstacles during LiDAR data acquisition. YellowScan Surveyor Ultra works under hard conditions (intense usage, above recommended AGL altitude, humidity rate…) and is definitely matching tropical areas constraints for UAV mapping.

Surveyor Ultra is capable of very large LiDAR data acquisition for linear infrastructures (corridor mapping) and its combination with Quantum-Systems Tron is a proven solution.

In fact, this large-scale project has shown to the world how Quantum-Systems and YellowScan combined solutions brought UAV surveying to a new level. Quantum-Systems Tron UAV and YellowScan Surveyor Ultra LiDAR reached the productivity level and covered area size per flight typically reached by manned aircrafts.

This is just the beginning as we expect further improvements with new UAV LiDAR systems which will bring this technology to unprecedented level of effectiveness, ease of use, at lower cost.

NB : Author Julien BO.

Discover our UAV LiDAR solutions