Headwall Unmanned Airborne Hyperspectral System with LiDAR Provides a Unique Solution in Turkey

May 4, 2020

Guest blog post by Fatih Ömrüuzun of Headwall reseller Visratek in Turkey

Fatih Omruuzun of VisratekVisratek Defense and Information Technologies has represented Headwall Photonics in Turkey since 2015. Thanks to Headwall’s global leadership in spectral imaging products and our collaborative partnership, we have delivered some top-quality, turn-key hyperspectral imaging solutions to our customers in Turkey.

This valuable partnership has recently led to another successful delivery of Headwall’s integrated airborne solutions in Turkey despite difficult times we are all going through due to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease. Headwall offers powerful airborne hyperspectral imaging packages that include qualified hardware (hyperspectral sensor, LİDAR, GPS, stabilizer) and software components which are fully compatible with unmanned airborne platforms.

Our customer initiated a project to support their field teams – who must maintain uninterrupted operation of a large electrical-distribution grid in rural areas – with an autonomous unmanned airborne vehicle (UAV) based imaging system. Since the project has various objectives ranging from soil moisture analysis to manmade object detection, the UAV platform needed to be equipped with multiple imaging sensors: including hyperspectral, LiDAR and thermal.

As usual, Visratek has closely collaborated with the customer to perform an analysis of their requirements to deliver a system that meets their needs in the field. Our analysis indicated that Headwall’s Nano-Hyperspec with LiDAR integrated turnkey solution with the DJI Matrice 600 Pro UAV is ideally suited to meet project’s goals.

Point-cloud and Hyperspectral with LiDAR data-fusion visualizationsThe Nano-Hyperspec is an incredibly compact hyperspectral imager with internal SSD storage, specifically designed for small-UAV applications where the weight of the payload matters a great deal. In many countries the take-off weight dictates the level of certification required for commercial operation. Headwall’s engineering team has increased the capability of Nano-Hyperspec by integrating a very compact, eye-safe LiDAR sensor that shares the same GPS/IMU unit and synchronously records point cloud data into the internal storage of the Nano-Hyperspec.

This provides a unique hyperspectral imaging solution that enables fusion of very high-resolution Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and hyperspectral-3D point cloud data as seen in the example above to enhance classification accuracy where 3D information of the objects in the scene matters: a 3D point-cloud from airborne LiDAR is shown in the top image, and two examples of hyperspectral data fusion using a LiDAR-generated DEM where the red band has been assigned to the “standard deviation” of the DEM, so that objects with an intense slope (i.e. height above ground level) appear red in the pseudocolor image are shown in the bottom.

In fact, Headwall was the first company to offer this capability to its customers and authorized resellers. In addition to hyperspectral and LiDAR, Visratek has also integrated a thermal imager to this package in Turkey to meet all of the needs of this customer.

Software is another critical part of the solution. Headwall provides all the software needed for planning and performing an autonomous flight, as well as handling data preprocessing tasks, i.e. ortho-rectification and hyperspectral-3D point cloud fusion. This allows operators to make the data ready for post-processing in a very short time.

Field training of the system has been provided to our valuable customer in Turkey by Visratek along with a test flight. We look forward to the easing of the current COVID-19 restrictions to allow full deployment of this system.