Drone LiDAR Price Guide

Drone LiDAR technology is available at a wide range of price points, depending on your budget and your needs.

The DJI M350 RTK is the successor to the DJI M300 RTK, the industry standard for carrying LiDAR.  The M350 RTK combo is $11,729.  If you already own the DJI M300 RTK and would like to use the DJI Zenmuse L2, you will need to upgrade your controller to the RC Plus.  

The E38 Complete Kit LiDAR Bundle - M350 RTK + L2 LiDAR + Base Station + BricsCAD is $28,401

On its own, the EMLID Reach RS2+ base station kit costs $2,977.

The price of a single LiDAR kit or sensor can vary significantly based on the brand, point density, and other specifications such as IMU. The DJI Zenmuse L2 costs $12,430. LiDAR kits from RESEPI are available for under $35,000, but can cost over $150,000:

The DJI Zenmuse L2 and all RESEPI drone LiDAR kits, save for the Teledyne Optech CL-360HD, are compatible with both the DJI M300 RTK and the DJI M350 RTK. The RESEPI Teledyne Optech CL-360HD must be used with a different drone.

Why is the DJI Zenmuse L2 so much less expensive than other LiDAR solutions?

You may be wondering why there’s such a vast difference between the price of some drone LiDAR kits and the DJI Zenmuse L2. Of course we could make some assumptions on why this is, but of more interest is the applications in which these LiDAR kits fit.

The Zenumse L2 - The Zenmuse L2 is a new LiDAR module on the market, with much more to come in terms of the full analysis, but there is sample data available where we can learn more on the data.  In terms of vegetation, it should be strong in terms of penetration.  Some of the data analyzed appears to show some inaccuracies in vegetation that may be related to the LiDAR's ability to decipher which return to use for the distance measurement.  If this is the issue, it may be that configuring the L2 to use just 3 or 2 returns may result in less penetration, but perhaps more accurate data.  The IMU accuracy level poses two issues.  The first is a systematic drift, resulting in poor strip alignment.  Because this is systematic DJI Terra can do a good job of recognizing and resolving this error.  The other issue is instances of poor data due to sporadic IMU errors.  Because they are sporadic Terra cannot identify these automatically.  This may for instance result in small pockets of inaccurate data.  All in all the L2 is a very good value, though it may not be the most accurate in vegetation.  The DJI system accuracy spec of 4 cm vertically, seems to be a reasonable representation of the quality of data.

The RESEPI Hesai XT-32 has an excellent LiDAR module as well as an industry leading IMU.  The strength of the XT-32 is that there are no systematic errors where software has to make an educated guess on how to fix them.  In addition the LiDAR module is very accurate when it penetrates vegetation.  When processing XT-32 data, is just clean out of the box, which means there are less additional steps that could introduce error.  The system accuracy spec of 2-3 cm seems to be very conservative, as it has been proven consistently to perform even better.  One accuracy study E38 put together can be seen here.  

Drone LiDAR system software

Another line item to consider when calculating the cost of a drone LiDAR system is software. Many different drone lidar software programs are sold via a subscription model and require a monthly or annual fee.

The DJI Zenmuse L2 includes a perpetual license for DJI Terra.  No additional costs are incurred when collecting and processing LAS point clouds with the L2.

The RESEPI LiDAR kits, such as the RESEPI Hesai XT-32, include a year’s access to PCMaster, Inertial Labs’ LiDAR point cloud generation software.  PCMaster is required to process the LiDAR data, and costs $3,000 per year.  

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