The objective of this study was to determine the effects of sensor velocity and target height above ground level on height measurement error when using a multi-channel LiDAR sensor. A linear motion system was developed to precisely control the dynamics of the LiDAR sensor in an effort to remove uncertainty in the LiDAR position and velocity while under motion. The linear motion system allowed the LiDAR to translate forward and backward in one direction parallel to the ground. A user control interface was developed to operate the system under different velocity profiles and to log LiDAR data synchronous to the motion of the system. The performance of the linear motion system was validated with a tracking total station, and the results showed that the position and velocity control errors were negligible as compared to the LiDAR accuracy. The LiDAR was then validated using 25 test targets at varying heights above ground level (0.1, 0.3, 0.5, 0.6, and 0.8 m) with five different velocity profiles (0.1, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.2 m s-1) and six replications to determine the effects of sensor velocity and target height on measurement error. The targets were painted white on one side and black on the other to determine the effect of relative intensity on LiDAR height measurement error. Generalized linear mixed models were fitted with the measurement error and the standard deviation of the measurement error as the responses. Sensor velocity, target height, and their interaction were considered as fixed effects to determine if there were significant differences in average error and standard deviation of error for different sensor velocities and target heights. The results indicated that the velocity of the LiDAR was a significant factor affecting the average error and standard deviation of error in height measurements. However, higher velocities tended to result in only slightly larger average errors. A three-fold increase in the standard deviation was observed when increasing the velocity from 0.1 to 2.2 m s-1. Height of the target was either a weakly significant or insignificant factor in average error and a weakly significant factor affecting the standard deviation of the LiDAR measurements, representing mixed results. The average error and standard deviation were less than 10 and 30 mm, respectively, for all replications. Relative intensities of the LiDAR measurements were 88.2% and 5.4% for white and black targets, respectively, and the different target colors exhibited a 4.7 mm shift in average estimated height error. These uncertainties may not be substantial for agricultural applications, where other sources of error, such as moving crop canopies or error in resolving the position of the sensor, are more likely to dominate overall measurement error.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in Transactions of the ASABE, v. 62, issue 1.

@ 2019 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

The copyright holder has granted the permission for posting the article here.

The document available for download is the authors' post-peer-review final draft of the article.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Funding Information

This work is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2016‐70005‐25648 and through the Hatch/Multistate Program under Grant No. 1015710.