[MARMAM] LidarBoX: a 3D-printed, open-source altimeter system to improve photogrammetric accuracy for off-the-shelf drones

Bierlich, Kevin C kevin.bierlich at oregonstate.edu
Thu Jan 11 10:51:03 PST 2024


Happy New Year MarMam!

Are you using drones to obtain morphological measurements of marine mammals? Need a LiDAR altimeter for your drone?

Our research team recently developed a 3D printed LiDAR altimeter system (called "LidarBoX") that can easily be attached and swapped amongst different drones (DJI Phantom, Inspire, and Mavic) to help obtain accurate altitude readings for photogrammetric analysis of marine mammals. Our team and colleagues have been using LidarBoX to obtain body size measurements on several different species, including bottlenose dolphins, gray whales, humpback whales, and minke whales.

To help make LidarBoX accessible, we have made an open-source repository with design code and files and a how-to-assemble guide: https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/datasets/3n204680g.
If interested in having a LidarBoX built for your lab by the Oregon State University Innovation Lab, fill out the Contact Form at https://hmsc.oregonstate.edu/iLab.

We recently published this work in the Drone Systems and Applications.
The article is open access: https://doi.org/10.1139/dsa-2023-0051

Citation:
K.C. Bierlich, Drummond Wengrove, Clara N. Bird, Robert Davidson, Todd Chandler, Leigh G. Torres, and Mauricio Cantor. 2024. LidarBoX: a 3D-printed, open-source altimeter system to improve photogrammetric accuracy for off-the-shelf drones. Drone Systems and Applications. 12(): 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1139/dsa-2023-0051

Abstract
Drones provide a privileged birds’-eye view for collecting high-resolution imagery for morphometric and behavioral sampling of animals. Biologically meaningful measurements extracted from overhead images require an accurate estimate of altitude, but current commercial drones include inaccurate barometer estimates. Recent proposals for coupling altimeter systems to drones have provided customized, open-source solutions, yet assembling such altimeter systems requires advanced technical skills, thereby potentially limiting their use. Here, we built upon recent advances to provide a 3D-printed enclosure for an altimeter system that is inexpensive, self-contained, easy to setup, and transferable across commercial drones. We depart from a published, successful data logger system composed of a GPS and LiDAR sensor and design a more compact and self-powered version (“LidarBoX”) that easily attaches to a variety of commercial drones. We compare flight times with/without LidarBoX attached, test flight maneuverability and performance, and validate the reliability of measurement accuracy. To make LidarBoX accessible, we provide an open-source repository with design code and files and a how-to-assemble guide for non-specialists. We hope this work helps popularize LiDAR altimeter systems on commercial drones to improve the accuracy and reliability of drones as a sampling platform for ecology and wildlife research.


Cheers,
KC


KC (Kevin) Bierlich, PhD, MEM

Postdoctoral Scholar

Geospatial Ecology of Marine Megafauna (GEMM<https://mmi.oregonstate.edu/gemm-lab>) Lab

Marine Mammal Institute | Dept. of Fisheries, Wildlife, & Conservation Sciences

Oregon State University

Pronouns: he, him, his

kcbierlich.com<http://kcbierlich.com/>

kevin.bierlich at oregonstate.edu<mailto:kevin.bierlich at oregonstate.edu>

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