Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: LIDAR


Population surveys and species recognition for roosting bats are either based on capture, sight or optical-mechanical count methods. However, these methods are intrusive, are tedious and, at best, provide only statistical estimations. Here, we demonstrated the successful use of a terrestrial Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) laser scanner for remotely identifying and determining the exact population of roosting bats in caves. LIDAR accurately captured the 3D features of the roosting bats and their spatial distribution patterns in minimal light. The high-resolution model of the cave enabled an exact count of the visibly differentiated Hipposideros larvatus and their roosting pattern within the 3D topology of the cave. We anticipate that the development of LIDAR will open up new research possibilities by allowing researchers to study roosting behaviour within the topographical context of a cave’s internal surface, thus facilitating rigorous quantitative characterisations of cave roosting behaviour.

Concepts: Mathematics, Optics, Light, Laser, Cave, 3D scanner, LIDAR, Bathymetry


A Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensor mounted on an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) can map the overflown environment in point clouds. Mapped canopy heights allow for the estimation of crop biomass in agriculture. The work presented in this paper contributes to sensory UAV setup design for mapping and textual analysis of agricultural fields. LiDAR data are combined with data from Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensors to conduct environment mapping for point clouds. The proposed method facilitates LiDAR recordings in an experimental winter wheat field. Crop height estimates ranging from 0.35-0.58 m are correlated to the applied nitrogen treatments of 0-300 kg N ha . The LiDAR point clouds are recorded, mapped, and analysed using the functionalities of the Robot Operating System (ROS) and the Point Cloud Library (PCL). Crop volume estimation is based on a voxel grid with a spatial resolution of 0.04 × 0.04 × 0.001 m. Two different flight patterns are evaluated at an altitude of 6 m to determine the impacts of the mapped LiDAR measurements on crop volume estimations.

Concepts: Agriculture, Estimator, Optics, Measurement, Units of measurement, Global navigation satellite system, LIDAR, Unmanned aerial vehicle


Since 2015, China has successfully launched five experimental BeiDou global navigation system (BDS-3) satellites for expanding the regional system to global coverage. An initial performance assessment and characterization analysis of the BDS-3 is presented. Twenty days of tracking data have been collected from eleven monitoring stations. The tracking characteristics and measurement quality are analyzed and compared with the regional BDS (BDS-2) in terms of observed carrier-to-noise density ratio, pseudo-range multipath, and noise. The preliminary results suggest that the measurement quality of BDS-3 outperforms the BDS-2 for the same type of satellites. In addition, the analysis of multipath combinations reveals that the problem of satellite-induced code biases found in BDS-2 seems to have been solved for BDS-3. Precise orbit and clock determination are carried out and evaluated. The orbit overlap comparison show a precision of 2-6 dm in 3D root mean square (RMS) and 6-14 cm in the radial component for experimental BDS-3 satellites. External validations with satellite laser ranging (SLR) show residual RMS on the level of 1-3 dm. Finally, the performance of the new-generation onboard atomic clocks is evaluated and results confirm an increased stability compared to BDS-2 satellite clocks.

Concepts: Root mean square, Satellite, Atomic clock, LIDAR, Satellites, Satellite laser ranging


Fire-induced permafrost degradation is well documented in boreal forests, but the role of fires in initiating thermokarst development in Arctic tundra is less well understood. Here we show that Arctic tundra fires may induce widespread thaw subsidence of permafrost terrain in the first seven years following the disturbance. Quantitative analysis of airborne LiDAR data acquired two and seven years post-fire, detected permafrost thaw subsidence across 34% of the burned tundra area studied, compared to less than 1% in similar undisturbed, ice-rich tundra terrain units. The variability in thermokarst development appears to be influenced by the interaction of tundra fire burn severity and near-surface, ground-ice content. Subsidence was greatest in severely burned, ice-rich upland terrain (yedoma), accounting for ~50% of the detected subsidence, despite representing only 30% of the fire disturbed study area. Microtopography increased by 340% in this terrain unit as a result of ice wedge degradation. Increases in the frequency, magnitude, and severity of tundra fires will contribute to future thermokarst development and associated landscape change in Arctic tundra regions.

Concepts: Climate, Köppen climate classification, Russia, Taiga, Tundra, Siberia, LIDAR, Permafrost


Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) data allow spatially explicit (x, y, z) laser return intensities to be recorded throughout a plant canopy, which could considerably improve our understanding of how physiological processes vary in three-dimensional space. However, the utility of TLS data for the quantification of plant physiological properties remains largely unexplored. Here, we test whether the laser return intensity of green (532-nm) TLS correlates with changes in the de-epoxidation state of the xanthophyll cycle and photoprotective non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), and compare the ability of TLS to quantify these parameters with the passively measured photochemical reflectance index (PRI). We exposed leaves from five plant species to increasing light intensities to induce NPQ and de-epoxidation of violaxanthin (V) to antheraxanthin (A) and zeaxanthin (Z). At each light intensity, the green laser return intensity (GLRI), narrowband spectral reflectance, chlorophyll fluorescence emission and xanthophyll cycle pigment composition were recorded. Strong relationships between both predictor variables (GLRI, PRI) and both explanatory variables (NPQ, xanthophyll cycle de-epoxidation) were observed. GLRI holds promise to provide detailed (mm) information about plant physiological status to improve our understanding of the patterns and mechanisms driving foliar photoprotection. We discuss the potential for scaling these laboratory data to three-dimensional canopy space.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Fluorescence, Light, Dimension, Leaf, Chlorophyll, LIDAR


Curb detection is an important research topic in environment perception, which is an essential part of unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) operations. In this paper, a new curb detection method using a 2D laser range finder in a semi-structured environment is presented. In the proposed method, firstly, a local Digital Elevation Map (DEM) is built using 2D sequential laser rangefinder data and vehicle state data in a dynamic environment and a probabilistic moving object deletion approach is proposed to cope with the effect of moving objects. Secondly, the curb candidate points are extracted based on the moving direction of the vehicle in the local DEM. Finally, the straight and curved curbs are detected by the Hough transform and the multi-model RANSAC algorithm, respectively. The proposed method can detect the curbs robustly in both static and typical dynamic environments. The proposed method has been verified in real vehicle experiments.

Concepts: Laser applications, Digital elevation model, LIDAR, Unmanned aerial vehicle, Laser rangefinder, Unmanned ground vehicle, Rangefinder


Typical integrated optical phase tuners alter the effective index. In this paper, we explore tuning by geometric deformation. We show that tuning efficiency, Vπ L, improves as the device size shrinks down to the optimal bend radius, contrary to conventional index-shift based approaches where Vπ L remains constant. We demonstrate that this approach is capable of ultra-low power tuning across a full FSR in a low-confinement silicon nitride based ring resonator of 580 μm radius. We demonstrate record performance with VFSR = 16 V, Vπ L = 3.6 V dB, Vπ Lα = 1.1 V dB, tuning current below 10 nA, and unattenuated tuning response up to 1 MHz. We also present optimized designs for high confinement silicon nitride and silicon based platforms with radius down to 80 μm and 45 μm, respectively, with performance well beyond current state-of-the-art. Applications include narrow-linewidth tunable diode lasers for spectroscopy and non-linear optics, optical phased array beamforming networks for RF antennas and LIDAR, and optical filters for WDM telecommunication links.

Concepts: Optics, Laser, Resonator, Length, Nonlinear optics, LIDAR, Bend radius


Although the application of LiDAR has made significant contributions to archaeology, LiDAR only provides a synchronic view of the current topography. An important challenge for researchers is to extract diachronic information over typically extensive LiDAR-surveyed areas in an efficient manner. By applying an architectural chronology obtained from intensive excavations at the site center and by complementing it with surface collection and test excavations in peripheral zones, we analyze LiDAR data over an area of 470 km2 to trace social changes through time in the Ceibal region, Guatemala, of the Maya lowlands. We refine estimates of structure counts and populations by applying commission and omission error rates calculated from the results of ground-truthing. Although the results of our study need to be tested and refined with additional research in the future, they provide an initial understanding of social processes over a wide area. Ceibal appears to have served as the only ceremonial complex in the region during the transition to sedentism at the beginning of the Middle Preclassic period (c. 1000 BC). As a more sedentary way of life was accepted during the late part of the Middle Preclassic period and the initial Late Preclassic period (600-300 BC), more ceremonial assemblages were constructed outside the Ceibal center, possibly symbolizing the local groups' claim to surrounding agricultural lands. From the middle Late Preclassic to the initial Early Classic period (300 BC-AD 300), a significant number of pyramidal complexes were probably built. Their high concentration in the Ceibal center probably reflects increasing political centralization. After a demographic decline during the rest of the Early Classic period, the population in the Ceibal region reached the highest level during the Late and Terminal Classic periods, when dynastic rule was well established (AD 600-950).

Concepts: Concentration, Maya peoples, Archaeology, Refining, LIDAR, Mesoamerican chronology, Anno Domini, Maya


How to image objects that are hidden from a camera’s view is a problem of fundamental importance to many fields of research, with applications in robotic vision, defence, remote sensing, medical imaging and autonomous vehicles. Non-line-of-sight (NLOS) imaging at macroscopic scales has been demonstrated by scanning a visible surface with a pulsed laser and a time-resolved detector. Whereas light detection and ranging (LIDAR) systems use such measurements to recover the shape of visible objects from direct reflections, NLOS imaging reconstructs the shape and albedo of hidden objects from multiply scattered light. Despite recent advances, NLOS imaging has remained impractical owing to the prohibitive memory and processing requirements of existing reconstruction algorithms, and the extremely weak signal of multiply scattered light. Here we show that a confocal scanning procedure can address these challenges by facilitating the derivation of the light-cone transform to solve the NLOS reconstruction problem. This method requires much smaller computational and memory resources than previous reconstruction methods do and images hidden objects at unprecedented resolution. Confocal scanning also provides a sizeable increase in signal and range when imaging retroreflective objects. We quantify the resolution bounds of NLOS imaging, demonstrate its potential for real-time tracking and derive efficient algorithms that incorporate image priors and a physically accurate noise model. Additionally, we describe successful outdoor experiments of NLOS imaging under indirect sunlight.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Optics, Light, Laser, IMAGE, Image processing, LIDAR, TopoFlight


The movements of organisms and the resultant flows of ecosystem services are strongly shaped by landscape connectivity. Studies of urban ecosystems have relied on two-dimensional (2D) measures of greenspace structure to calculate connectivity. It is now possible to explore three-dimensional (3D) connectivity in urban vegetation using waveform lidar technology that measures the full 3D structure of the canopy. Making use of this technology, here we evaluate urban greenspace 3D connectivity, taking into account the full vertical stratification of the vegetation. Using three towns in southern England, UK, all with varying greenspace structures, we describe and compare the structural and functional connectivity using both traditional 2D greenspace models and waveform lidar-generated vegetation strata (namely, grass, shrubs and trees). Measures of connectivity derived from 3D greenspace are lower than those derived from 2D models, as the latter assumes that all vertical vegetation strata are connected, which is rarely true. Fragmented landscapes that have more complex 3D vegetation showed greater functional connectivity and we found highest 2D to 3D functional connectivity biases for short dispersal capacities of organisms (6 m to 16 m). These findings are particularly pertinent in urban systems where the distribution of greenspace is critical for delivery of ecosystem services.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Critical thinking, Ecology, Structure, Ecosystem, 2D computer graphics, Ecological economics, LIDAR