LiDAR Intensity: What is it and What are it’s applications?

Example Applications of LiDAR Intensity

LiDAR intensity is recorded as the return strength of a laser beam. In the Geo-MMS LiDAR systems, it is a bi-product, provided as an integer number between 1-256. This number varies with the composition of the surface object reflecting the laser beam. A low number indicates low reflectivity while a high number indicates high reflectivity. The intensity of the laser beam return can also be affected by the angle of arrival (scan angle), range, surface composition, roughness, and moisture content.  This means that features under the nadir of the LiDAR sensor usually have higher intensity than the same features along the edges (tilted further), as the returned energy decreases. For these reasons, LiDAR intensity does not always lead to consistent results. It must be used as a relative measurement.  An advantage is that unlike passive vision sensors (cameras), it is indifferent to shadows.

Intensity of the LiDAR point clouds can be used for numerous applications, including:

  • Feature detection and point cloud classification
  • Feature registration with Geo-Photomap imagery data
  • Distinguishing features
  • Land cover classification
  • Identifying wet areas in forested areas (due to the tendency of the sensor signal to be absorbed by water)
  • Vegetation classification

In some applications, an intensity image can be made from the LiDAR point clouds and utilized in a variety of applications supporting additional image-processing see article in LiDAR Magazine.

Complementary to 3D geo-referenced LiDAR positions, LiDAR intensity, in many applications, is a reliable source for data analysis and decision-making. If you are using Geodetics’ Point&Pixel product, which is near-infrared, complements the RGB from camera images.

Road Markings Captured

Road Markings Captured

Water Features Detected

Water Features Detected

Railroad Tracks

Railroad Track











To learn more about Geodetics Point&Pixel and the rest of our Geo-MMS product suite request more info today.