INVESTIGATION INTO THE POTENTIAL OF SINGLE PHOTON AIRBORNE LASER SCANNING TECHNOLOGY
Following several years of incremental technological developments in airborne laser scanning, the field is currently witnessing potentially revolutionary change through the introduction of new technologies, namely Single Photon (SP) and Geiger-Mode (GM) lidar. These new sensors potentially provide more efficient approaches to perform high-resolution 3D mapping, but seemingly to the detriment of accuracy and noise. Despite concerns, the technology is perceived to offer higher efficiency with respect to conventional airborne laser scanning and additional 3D mapping capability in terms of swath width, spatial resolution, acquisition time and density of range returns. These developments have led to some European National Mapping and Cadastral Agencies (NMCAs) to consider a potential change in their production pipelines, while some mapping companies are contemplating upgrading their existing airborne sensor systems. However, few open datasets and experiences are available to inform such decisions, and the community is keen to learn more about the technology and its deployment for 3D territorial mapping. These facts and considerations motivated EuroSDR Commission 1 to launch a new initiative in 2018 to better understand, explore and report to its NMCA membership the developments in SP and GM technologies. This paper describes the activities that have thus far been conducted as part of this EuroSDR initiative, comprising: a global on-line questionnaire into awareness of the technology; a preliminary investigation into a Leica SPL100 dataset of Easton, USA; and a community workshop at which a proposal to run an international benchmarking exercise was discussed.