Zenmuse L1 - An Integrated Payload With LiDAR Technology

Zenmuse L1 - An Integrated Payload With LiDAR Technology

October 26, 2020

DJI Releases the Zenmuse L1- An Integrated Payload With LiDAR Technology

DJI has just released its newest payload for the Matrice 300: the DJI Zenmuse L1. The greatest thing about DJI drone technology is that many of its drones allow you to integrate several different payloads depending on the needs of your mission. The Zenmuse L1 combines a visual RGB camera with a 1-inch CMOS, a high-precision IMU, and a Livox LiDAR module to give you superior topographical mapping and aerial surveying capabilities. The LiDAR technology is the real standout feature of the new DJI Zenmuse L1, using pulsed lasers of light to provide accurate 3D information for surveying and mapping.

You may have heard about LiDAR as an expensive new form of technology typically used in seismology or geography, but LiDAR is increasingly being used for commercial purposes from forestry management to energy inspections. Not only is the DJI Zenmuse L1 the first ever LiDAR payload by DJI, but it’s also half the cost of most third party drone LiDAR kits. We’ll go over everything you need to know about LiDAR technology and how the DJI Zenmuse L1 fully integrates each of its features to provide you with precise data and real-time 3D models.

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, a remote sensing method that uses light to measure variable distances to the Earth. LiDAR does so using pulsed lasers of light to measure these ranges, and the combination of this and other data can be used to gather accurate 3D information about the Earth’s shape and the characteristics of its surface.

LiDAR instruments can be attached to aircraft such as airplanes or helicopters, although it’s recently been incorporated with drone technology for more targeted use. LiDAR drones have the benefit of being able to fly over smaller areas and perform closer inspections on things such as construction sites or infrastructure. The LiDAR instrument itself typically consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver. Thanks to the precision, high resolution, and versatility of LiDAR technology, it can be used in a wide range of commercial applications that require topographic mapping and aerial surveying.

Introducing the New Zenmuse L1

The DJI Zenmuse L1 is DJI’s newest payload for the Matrice 300 combining a LiDAR module, a high accuracy IMU, and a 20 megapixel 1-inch sensor powered visual camera on a 3-axis gimbal. The L1 is a fully integrated payload that works perfectly with the DJI Matrice 300 RTK and DJI Terra mapping software, giving you the ability to collect real-time 3D data both during the day and at night. Whether you’re inspecting infrastructure or topographic mapping a construction site, the DJI Zenmuse can help you efficiently and accurately map the specifics of complex structures and display them in reconstructed 3D models.

livox Mid70 LiDAR Module

The DJI Zenmuse L1 is powered by a sensor called Mid70 made by Livox, which is a frame LiDAR that is capable of up to 100% effective point cloud results. The LiDAR sensor also has an impressive detection range of 450m (at 80% reflectivity and 0 klx) or 190m (at 10% reflectivity and 100 klx. This makes aerial surveying and topographic mapping a breeze, as you can fly the aerial LiDAR drone from a high enough distance to keep the drone safe without impacting the data.

The Mid70 sensor also has an incredibly effective point rate of 240,000 pts/s and supports up to three returns. In operations with more than one return, the Mid70 sensor has a point rate of 480,000 pts/s. These impressive specs allow the user to not only measure things like vegetation height but also to measure a Digital Elevation Model (DSM) and Digital Surface Model (DEM).

Works Wherever, Whenever

Many payloads or aerial drones aren’t built to withstand severe weather or suboptimal lighting conditions. The DJI Zenmuse has an IP44 Ingress Protection Level rating that allows you to operate it in both rain and fog. In addition to its weather-resistance, the L1’s Lidar module also has an active scanning method that allows you to fly it at night without affecting the accuracy of the data.

Integrated RGB Camera

In addition to its powerful Mid70 LiDAR sensor, the DJI Zenmuse L1 also has an RGB visual camera that provides color rendering data for the LiDAR module in real-time, giving true color to point clouds and reality models. This integrated RGB camera is powered by a 20 megapixel 1-inch CMOS sensor and uses a Mechanical and Global shutter and adjustable aperture quite similar to the Phantom 4 RTK drone.

In addition to providing color rendering data to the LiDAR module in the service of topographical mapping, the RGB camera can also be used for taking basic photos or videos as well, which can be useful for aerial surveying. The RGB camera also comes with an auxiliary vision sensor that helps you maintain altitude data in the event of GNSS failure in flight due to weather conditions.

This sensor does so by continuously providing orientation data and vision-based positioning, ensuring the success of your mission and the accuracy of your data.

High-Accuracy IMU

The DJI Zenmuse L1 comes with an onboard IMU that gives you precise details for positioning accuracy. The IMU of the L1 has a very high accuracy of 0.025° along the roll and pitch axes and 0.08° on the yaw axis. When combined with the visual assistant, the GNSS system of the Matrice 300 RTK, and advanced sensor fusion algorithms, the DJI Zenmuse L1 can provide centimeter-level accuracy in rendered data.

Fully Integrated Payload

The thing that sets the DJI Zenmuse L1 apart from other LiDAR payloads is the way it fully integrates the Livox Mid70 LiDAR sensor with its RBG camera and high-precision IMU. These elements work together to give you a versatile and powerful aerial LiDAR solution that can be used for anything from agriculture and forestry management to emergency response. When you combine the L1 with the Matrice 300 and the DJI Terra desktop software, you can use the L1 to fuse data from the onboard IMU and the drone GNSS and visible light, allowing you to easily generate highly accurate reconstructed models and reports.

The L1 is also the first LiDAR payload that can combine the visual images from the camera with the LiDAR data to create true color point clouds and models. These 3D point clouds can be generated in real-time while the LiDAR drone is in the air collecting data, giving you the ability to make decisions in the field and ensure the success of your mission.

Superior Efficiency

If there’s one thing the DJI Zemuse L1 excels at, it’s efficiency. The Livox frame LiDAR module has a 70° FOV and works with the visible light RGB camera to produce true-color point cloud models in real-time, giving you instant on-site insights. When the L1 is paired with the Matrice 300 RTK, this aerial LiDAR drone can acquire 2 sq.km of point cloud data in a single flight at 100m altitude. Not only can it collect this much data in one flight of just over 30 minutes, but it can also do it while maintaining a side overlap of 20% and a point cloud density of over 200 points/sq.m. This level of efficiency can be instrumental in the accuracy of topographical mapping.

Point Cloud Liveview

When equipped with a live view of these point cloud models, users can immediately act on the information to make strategic choices during the mission. Users can also determine whether or not the mission was a success by immediately testing the point cloud details after the flight to evaluate the quality of the data collected. Time is almost always of the essence during a mission, and this real-time information can allow you to complete your mission without having to stop and recharge the drone. Users can easily rotate or zoom in or out on the point cloud model during the flight through the DJI Smart Controller Enterprise screen in the DJI Pilot app.  

This enables you to view the 3D model from every angle in order to properly interpret the data. The DJI Zenmuse L1 also allows you to conveniently switch back and forth between the point cloud display and the live view from the RGB camera, or to set a split-screen display so that you can see both views at once.

Measurements, Annotations, and One-stop Post-processing

Users can further interact with the point cloud model through the measurements and annotations features, allowing you to obtain and interact with critical parameters. Processing the data is a breeze with the DJI Terra software, which conducts POS data calculations and fuses the IMU and GNSS data for point cloud and visible light calculations. This allows you to easily create reconstructed models and accuracy reports to help you interpret and record the data you obtain during your mission.

Applications of the Zenmuse L1

Topographic Mapping

The DJI Zenmuse L1 is instrumental in topographic mapping thanks to its ability to create a highly accurate Digital Surface Model (DSM) and Digital Elevation Model (DEM). With the help of accurate Digital Elevation Models, you can quickly create topographic maps to aid in land surveying.

Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Surveying

This aerial LiDAR payload can also help you manage the full project lifecycle of architecture, engineering, and construction surveying thanks to its precise point clouds and 3D models. Whether you’re mapping a large construction worksite, performing a building inspection, or creating 3D models of cultural and natural heritage sites, the DJI Zenmuse L1 has the accuracy and versatility you need to get the job done.

Energy and Infrastructure

In the Energy Industry, managing electrical grids and power plants requires routine inspections to ensure the safety and efficiency of the structure. The LiDAR technology of the DJI Zenmuse L1 can help you generate 3D models of structures both sparse and complex, giving you accurate details and streamlining the inspection process. Through its aerial LiDAR technology, the L1 can also aid in monitoring infrastructure on construction sites, allowing you to conduct inspections and maintenance much more easily.

Agriculture and Forestry Management

For agricultural applications, running a farm requires routine analysis of things like area and vegetation density. Thanks to the precise data of the DJI Zenmuse L1 and the post-processing capabilities of the DJI Terra software, you can easily analyze growth trends and ensure the health of your crops. This LiDAR payload can also help with forestry management, giving you insight into factors such as stock volume and canopy width to better survey natural resources.

Law Enforcement and Emergency Response

Law enforcement and emergency responders can also benefit from the DJI Zenmuse L1, as the real-time point cloud models can be used to help gain situational awareness and other forensic intel, providing critical insights for making informed decisions. The more information that law enforcement and emergency responders have about a situation before they enter the field, the more they can ensure the safety of themselves and those they may be responding to.

DJI Zenmuse L1: The Latest In Aerial LiDAR Technology

Drone technology has revolutionized the way we map, survey, and perform inspections. By using an aerial drone to quickly record data from a safe distance, we can gain real-time insights that allow us to save time and money. The DJI Zenmuse L1 goes one step further by incorporating LiDAR technology, creating a payload that’s capable of real-time point cloud rendering and topographical mapping.

Thanks to the LiDAR module’s active detection capability, the Zenmuse L1 can scan terrain to collect point clouds even at night or in other low light conditions. It’s also built to last, with an IP44 Ingress Protection Level that protects it against water and inclement weather. If you’re looking for a payload that was built just for topographical mapping and aerial surveying, the Zenmuse L1 is the payload for you. With an RGB camera and a high-accuracy IMU, there’s no limit to what the DJI Zenmuse L1 can accomplish.