If you’re in the world of LiDAR scanning, chances are you’ve heard of Emesent by now.
The Hovermap ST-X is Emesent’s newest premium product offering, built on the proven body of the ST. This new payload brings the same ruggedized functionality that we have come to expect from newer iterations of the Hovermap system but incorporates a brand-new LiDAR puck on the front.
The Hovermap ST-X boasts:
- Extended Range – Capture more data points from further distances and reduce the time taken to scan larger areas
- Increased Accuracy – Create maps with more precisely defined features
- Denser Point Cloud – Suboptimal experience when manipulating large point clouds
- Triple Return – Important where a detection beam may traverse several layers, revealing additional detail
Features of Hovermap ST-X
Hovermap ST-X’s LiDAR sensor range of 300m (984 ft) enables you to fly higher and faster to extend your transect coverage and enable faster data collection over broad areas. Fewer flights are required to cover an area, which reduces the amount of time lost during setup, packdown, and relocation, as well as combining scans.
Hovermap ST-X transmits the point cloud in real-time to your control tablet, enabling a real-time viewing of the acquired data. Emesent’s (optional) Long Range Radio attachment offers live streaming and device control up to 20 times further, allowing you to view real-time data and set intelligent waypoints for Guided Exploration from even greater distances.
The dust and splash-proof, weatherproof Hovermap ST-X is suited for usage in dusty or otherwise hostile conditions and locations. Extend its capabilities by adding a Long-Range Radio, colourisation hardware, or an inspection camera, via the accessory connector and mounting points.
Hovermap ST-X with GCP can be utilised to make survey-grade scans for long, linear assets and vast or feature-poor situations that were previously difficult for SLAM-based systems.
Differences between Hovermap ST & ST-X
Physically, you’ll notice a marginal size difference between the ST and ST-X, with the ST-X being slightly smaller than the ST. This is reflected in the weight of the ST-X, which is reduced to 1.57kg from 1.6kg. This reduced weight improves the ease-of-use and allows the payload to be used on the drone alongside other payloads, such as RGB cameras.
The more noticeable difference comes with the addition of the blue rubber around the LiDAR puck, further protecting the equipment from any bumps.
The Hovermap ST enables you to capture data between 0.40m to 100m (1.3ft to 330ft), but the ST-X triples this, enabling data to be obtained between 0.50m to 300m (1.6ft to 984ft). The extended range enables you to capture points from greater – distances, thus reducing the time taken to scan larger areas.
ST-X also achieves a significant improvement in overall point accuracy, creating maps with more precisely defined features. You can now expect ±10mm accuracies, compared to ±30mm accuracy in the previous iteration.
In practicality, you’ll see the following differences:
Acquisition speed pertains to the number of points collected per second.
Hovermap ST-X increases the number of laser sensors by 2 times (16 to 32 rings), effectively doubling the resolution of the map, the speed of data acquisition, and enabling you to create a map of equivalent density to the ST in a reduced scan time.
The table below outlines the acquisition speeds you can expect from each number of returns.
A triple return mode is important where a detection beam may traverse several layers e.g., flying above forest canopies. The second and third returns will reveal additional ground detail underneath the forestry.
In High-Density Mode (32 rings), you can expect up to 1,920,000 points per second. In Low-Density Mode (16 rings) you will collect significantly fewer points per second, at 960,000.
So, why would you opt to use low density?
Due to the larger number of points being collected in High-Density Mode, this will require a larger amount of processing power from your computer and more memory to store it. If you’re in a rush, you also might opt for low density for faster processing, as it only needs to process half the points of high density.
One more thing to consider is the battery life of your ST-X. In High-Density Mode, you will only achieve 4-hours of operations, compared to 6-hours in Low-Density Mode.
Overall, the new Emesent Hovermap ST-X will bolster any use case that you currently use a Hovermap ST for, with its increased range, point cloud density, and accuracy. However, there are some particular use cases in that you will experience the most benefits.
Above-ground asset inspections with exclusion zones
This includes telecommunications towers, energy grid networks, and active operating areas. Previously, you may have experienced a drop off in data quality from extended ranges, but with the range of up to 300m, Hovermap ST-X’s allows you to safely and effectively operate outside of the exclusion zone while still collecting high-quality, accurate data.
Where a detection beam must traverse several layers
One of the benefits of LiDAR over Photogrammetry is its ability to penetrate through vegetation. However, there is still some margin for error when flying above a canopy, for example, whereby a point could tag on a leaf or branch rather than the desired ground below. Increasing the number of returns increases your redundancy, reduces the margin for error, and enables you to create a more complete image of the area that you’re scanning.
Limited flight time
Thanks to the Hovermap ST-X’s increased range, you can now plan your routes to be more economical for your drone, without concern for capturing every minute detail.
Long Range Radio
Attaching Emesent’s Long Range Radio (optional) to Hovermap ST-X enables a 20-fold improvement in communication range. This enables the live streaming of the point cloud and delivers the benefits of safe, autonomous flight over greater distances without GPS.
Hovermap’s colourisation tool adds a new dimension of reality capture to your 3D point clouds.
True colour can be added to Hovermap’s 3D point clouds to provide additional context for display and analysis. Colourisation increases visibility across a number of applications, revealing previously hidden elements in your key infrastructure.
With Autonomous Waypoint Mode, pilots can complete an entire mission using a tablet, from take-off to landing.
Tap-to-Fly is a feature of Hovermap ST-X that enables exploration in previously inaccessible places beyond line of sight and communication range, providing access to previously unattainable insights. The functions of omnidirectional Collision Avoidance, Guided Exploration, and intelligent Return-to-Home ensure that assets are protected, and important equipment is not lost or damaged.
When in communication range, Hovermap ST-X feeds a live point cloud to the Hovermap app, delivering a real-time glimpse of the gathered data. Enabling you to leave the location with the assurance that you’ve captured everything necessary.
Mapping Mode provides rapid, precise, and high-resolution mobile scanning in areas where drone autonomy is unnecessary. For SLAM-based mobile mapping, the Hovermap ST-X’s quick-release mechanism makes it simple to move from a drone to handheld scanning, or a backpack, vehicle, or protective shaft scanning cage mount.
Pilot Assist Mode
Pilot Assist Mode offers omnidirectional Collision Avoidance, GPS-denied flight capability, and stability control, offering the confidence and stability necessary for close, comprehensive inspections. It serves as a protective bubble for your drone, safeguarding both the asset and your equipment.
Through Smart Waypoints and Guided Exploration, Autonomous Waypoint Mode enables flight outside the line of sight. Tap the map to set intelligent waypoints, and Hovermap ST-X takes care of the rest, navigating to the waypoints, mapping the area, and avoiding obstructions while keeping itself and the drone safe.
Find out more on Emesent Hovermap ST-X
We’re incredibly excited about the Emesent Hovermap ST-X and look forward to exploring the data achievable from this new premium offering.
Hovermap ST-X is now available for pre-order, with early orders deliverable in early 2023.
For more information on the Emesent Hovermap range, get in contact with us by filling out this short form below.