TOPODRONE Innovates Surveying Techniques for Floating Solar Farms with Synchronized LiDAR and Bathymetry in Israel

TOPODRONE, a Swiss-based designer and manufacturer of high-precision surveying equipment, has successfully synchronized airborne photogrammetry, LiDAR, and bathymetric surveying methods to study a floating solar farm. The project was conducted in partnership with Israeli drone service provider ERELIS, who was commissioned by ETZ HADEKEL Ltd. in Northern Israel to conduct a pilot project of reservoir surveying with a UAV.

The surface of the reservoir was covered by solar panels, making it difficult to conduct standard surveying methods from a boat. ERELIS performed a two-stage drone surveying process to deliver a high-precision 3D model of the reservoir. First, aerial photogrammetry and LiDAR surveys were conducted using a DJI M300 drone equipped with TOPODRONE’s P61 camera and a LiDAR HI-RES system to determine the location of possible obstacles. The LiDAR scanning provided accurate detection of cables in the water.

In the second stage, an underwater bathymetric survey was conducted using TOPODRONE’s AQUAMAPPER, which was mounted on the same drone, avoiding detected obstacles such as cables, solar panels, and other objects. The flight mission was planned and executed using UgCS software by SPH Engineering.

The collected LiDAR and bathymetry data was processed using TOPODRONE’s Post Processing software, resulting in a georeferenced orthophoto map, a 3D model of the relief and objects, a 3D model of the bottom of the reservoir, contour lines, and isobaths. These 3D models can be used for high-precision assessments of sediment volumes, general monitoring of reservoir banks, and visual monitoring. In addition, surveying with the AQUAMAPPER allowed for the estimation of sludge deposits in the reservoir.

“Our company has been providing drone-based bathymetric surveying services for water reservoirs and coastal waters since 2021. The ability to use the same UAV with different kinds of TOPODRONE equipment, such as LiDAR HI-RES systems, a high-resolution camera, and AQUAMAPPER, reduces costs and eliminates the need for additional tools. The aerial and echo-sounding data synchronization at the post-processing stage allows us to obtain a full geo-data package that can be used for survey and data digitization, modeling, mapping, aerial photogrammetry, quantities calculation, and other output products according to client demand,” commented Roman Kirsanov, CEO of ERELIS.

“We’re proud to see our clients developing new application areas for our equipment, including reservoir characterization and modeling,” added Maxim Baklykov, CEO of TOPODRONE. The company had previously used AQUAMAPPER in an EU road construction project to build a highway in Romania, which required surveying one of the toughest terrains with a river component.

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