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Mobile and Drone-based LiDAR Survey Collection for SDDOT

Banner image for the SDDOT LiDAR projects
Mobile and Drone-based LiDAR Survey Collection for SDDOT

Location:  Near Deadwood, Sturgis, and Wasta in South Dakota
Client:  South Dakota Department of Transportation


The South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) was concerned of two sites having geotechnical movement that could result in safety hazards.

The first site included 2.5 miles of Highway 14A between Deadwood and Sturgis involving a large vertical rock cliff along the road. The second site included approximately one mile of I-90 along the Cheyenne River near Wasta that was experiencing riverbank sloughing. 

Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI) helped the SDDOT gather data leveraging our cutting-edge technology combining traditional survey methods with mobile- and drone-based LiDAR. This was the first time the SDDOT was using drone-based LiDAR. 

The Project

Traditional surveying methods were used for portions of this project. However, mobile- and drone-based LiDAR were the primary methods of data collection. 
Once the project area was flown, HEI took the raw LiDAR data and completed a full feature extraction of the corridors, meaning all of the signs, pavement, trees, and more were identified within the 585 million points that were extracted. 
The reality of these site surveys is that it’s not possible to get the same results via traditional means. 
In addition to meeting the SDDOT’s needs, this project serves as a great example of how HEI’s LiDAR tools open up survey possibilities that weren’t possible before. As a result of our efforts, the SDDOT received an extremely accurate data set for their corridors with reduced survey man hours and minimized safety risks along the potentially dangerous unstable project sites. 

GIF animation showing the featured extraction process.

GIF showing the featured extraction process. The two animated images above show the featured extraction process of two different sections along Highway 14a between Deadwood and Sturgis, SD. The first sequence in these images shows the immense amount of LiDAR data originally collected. As these animations progress, the point cloud data is being scaled down to the featured extraction to a useable file size for AutoCAD software systems. 
GIF animation of featured extraction process
Similar to the first two animations, this shows the featured extraction process of the I-90 bridge near Piedmont, SD. LiDAR data can be captured all around the bridge, including below it, making it possible to create driveway clearances with the linework. 

Colorized point cloud of Highway 14aIs this a photo? Look again! This graphic was created entirely from data points collected through drone-based LiDAR.