Drone LiDAR Surveying for a Coal Mine Conveyor Belt

McGehee Engineering Corp., a leading consulting firm specializing in mining, environmental, civil, and geotechnical services, has successfully incorporated advanced aerial mapping and surveying techniques into their operations. Specifically, they have utilized the cutting-edge TrueView LiDAR technology from GeoCue to overcome the challenges faced in a recent project for a coal mining customer.

The project involved the construction of a large conveyor belt on the side of a steep bluff to facilitate material transportation down the cliff. Traditional surveying methods would have been time-consuming and arduous due to the project’s sheer size, extreme terrain, and extensive vegetation. Recognizing the need for a more efficient approach, McGehee Engineering turned to TrueView LiDAR technology to swiftly and accurately survey the area, providing essential data for designing the coal conveyor belt.

The incredible capabilities of TrueView LiDAR technology from GeoCue are showcased in the “Down to Earth: the Coal Belt” documentary-style reality series. This series highlights the real-world challenges faced by surveyors and their ability to collect accurate data despite adverse conditions, hidden dangers, and inclement weather. By integrating the TrueView 3D Imaging Sensor, which includes sensors, dual cameras, and IMUs, with their drone platforms, McGehee Engineering successfully captures detailed information required for engineering purposes.

In the first episode, McGehee Engineering’s team strategizes the use of TrueView 3D Imagery Sensors to overcome the terrain, distance, and bluffs, enabling the design of the Coal Belt. Jordan McGehee, a Partner at McGehee Engineering Corp and Registered Professional Engineer, explains the advantages of using drones equipped with LiDAR technology, stating, “Drones are perfectly suited to do a LiDAR survey of the cliff side leading down to the river, to keep our team safe and scan through the thick canopy of the forest.”

The second episode showcases the TrueView 515 in action as it surveys nearly 300 acres of steep cliffs and forest. Stephen Blankenship, the Environmental Engineering Department Manager at McGehee Engineering, emphasizes the accuracy and reliability of the drone LiDAR in providing precise deliverables for their customers. He notes that the TrueView 515’s ability to access the ground, penetrate the canopy, and generate detailed digital contour maps is critical for designing the belt.

In the final episode, the data collected during the survey is processed using LP360 software, enabling the creation of aerial photography, photogrammetry, and digital contour mapping. The LiDAR TrueView survey delivers comprehensive information for designing the conveyor belt and barge loadout facility, meeting the expectations of McGehee Engineering’s clients.

The integration of drone LiDAR technology and software has significantly enhanced McGehee Engineering’s ability to efficiently meet their customers’ requirements. Customers are extremely satisfied with the results provided by the TrueView 515 LiDAR and LP360 software, as McGehee Engineering delivers unmatched surface models that receive rave reviews.

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