U.S. intelligence agency to buy three heavy-lift drones to install LiDAR sensors

U.S. intelligence agency to buy three heavy-lift drones to install LiDAR sensors

The U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or NGA, is planning to buy up three heavy-lift small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) that will carry small commercial off-the-shelf Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensors for highly accurate under-the-cloud mapping purposes.

In a notice posted on the Federal website, the NGA announced that it is looking for contractors to provide Intelligence Agency with three heavy-lift sUAS.  These sUAS platforms will be used for mapping purposes by Research and NGA’s Geodetic Survey teams.

LIDAR is commonly used to make high-resolution maps, with applications in surveying, geodesy, geomatics, archaeology, geography, geology, geomorphology, seismology, forestry, atmospheric physics, laser guidance, airborne laser swath mapping (ALSM), and laser altimetry.


This sensor uses for measuring distances (ranging) by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the time of reflection the light takes to return to the sensor. Differences in laser return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital 3-D representations of the target. It has terrestrial, airborne, and mobile applications.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is a combat support agency under the United States Department of Defense and a member of the United States Intelligence Community, with the primary mission of collecting, analyzing, and distributing geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) in support of national security.

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