SUPPORTING UAVS IN LOW VISIBILITY CONDITIONS BY MULTIPLE-PULSE LASER SCANNING DEVICES
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are nowadays promising platforms for capturing spatial information, because they are low cost solutions, which are easy to bring to the surveying field and can operate automatically. Usually these devices are equipped with visual sensors to support the navigation of the platform or to transmit observations of the environment to the operator. By collecting the data and processing the captured images even an estimation of the observed environment in form of 3D information is available. Therefore Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) algorithms are well known for processing data which is captured in the visible domain. However, situations can occur where gathering visual information is difficult due to given limitations in form of low visibility. For example if soft obstacles in form of translucent materials are given in disaster scenarios with smoke and operating has still to be ensured, active optical sensors (e.g. laser scanners) are gaining interest because they can penetrate the soft obstacle and allow to acquire information behind it. A new lightweight (210 g), simplified and minimized scanning unit is now available which allows to capture multiple reflections for each transmitted laser pulse, namely the Hokuyo UTM-30LX-EW. With such a device, it is possible to overcome the above mentioned restrictions or limitations of low visibility by soft obstacles and even measure under critical circumstances. A multi-pulse system can provide accurate measurements on, within, and behind the soft obstacle. This research focuses on investigating the ability and performance of a laser scanner to penetrate the soft obstacle. Thus, investigations on a system that overcomes these limitations and provides a solution will be given. First promising experimental results considering soft obstacle are described.