Performance Evaluation of the Velodyne VLP-16 System for Surface Feature Surveying
Master of Science Defense
Earth Sciences–Ocean Mapping
For safety of navigation, it is important to identify and map the horizontal location and vertical elevation of exposed marine surface features such as piers, piles, and exposed rocks. The use of survey-grade laser scanners to improve upon traditional shoreline survey methods has historically been considered to be cost prohibitive. In this work, an in-depth performance evaluation was conducted using the Velodyne VLP-16 system, a low-cost industrial-grade mobile laser scanner to investigate the laser scanner’s accuracy of range estimates as a function of distance and angle of incidence, angular separation between individual beams, data density as a function of mounting orientation and scanner settings, and effective extinction range. The uncertainty of these key parameters were derived through multiple experiments conducted under both well-controlled laboratory and realistic field conditions. The results of the study demonstrate that the use of a low-cost industrial-grade mobile laser scanner is a cost-efficient survey tool for mapping marine surface features with performance that can meet survey requirements for charting purposes. Additionally, this study demonstrates that the Velodyne VLP-16 can also be used as a validation tool for measuring air gaps of bridges and overhead power cables crossing the channel.
John R. Kidd has a B.S. in Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences with a biology minor from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA and has pursued a master's degree in ocean mapping at UNH. John was inspired by an internship at NOAA's Atlantic Hydrographic Branch compiling hydrographic data and aboard the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson. Commissioned in July of 2011, he joined the NOAA Corps and served on NOAA Ship Rainier surveying along the Pacific coast and Alaska for two years and NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler surveying along the Atlantic coast for one year.