Satellite vs. LiDAR: Which technology is the future of vegetation management?


Did you know that the practice of Utility Vegetation Management (UVM) is over 100 years old? The evolution of UVM has not happened overnight and several technologies have aided and enhanced this practice over time. UVM practitioners have utilized a variety of data to both optimize and streamline budgeting, planning, prioritization, and risk aversion. Since the construction of the first power line corridors, the processes for right-of-way (RoW) evaluation have transformed, and now the options for remote sensing data collection, deep analysis, and interpretation seem almost limitless.

As of 2021, emerging technologies such as satellite imagery, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning are revolutionizing UVM tasks that are executed every day. LiDAR is also one of the vital technologies that UVM practitioners have been using for over a decade now. As a result, it’s easy to be left wondering where to start exploring what works best for your system.

Undeniably, Satellite and LiDAR are the two most common technologies, and both have proved valuable to utilities as innovation has allowed the collection of information with greater accuracy, depth, and contextual detail across large areas. However, decision-makers are often faced with a more practical question – Which technology should I choose?

To answer this question, we decided to delve deep. The result was a detailed comparison of satellite-powered vegetation management and LiDAR-based systems, exclusively in the scope of UVM. We measured the two technologies on the following parameters:

  1. Speed of data acquisition
  2. Geographic coverage
  3. Weather conditions
  4. Change detection
  5. Cost
  6. Regulatory compliance
  7. Clearance detection
  8. Operational challenges

The complete article has been published on the T&D World website.

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