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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 49, Issue 3 — May 2023

Literature Review of Unmanned Aerial Systems and LIDAR with Application to Distribution Utility Vegetation Management

Matthew Walker and Gregory A. Dahle

Abstract: Standardized tree risk assessment protocols are beneficial to utility vegetation management (UVM) in that they provide the most consistent qualitative assessment of a tree’s likelihood of failure, likelihood of impact, and overall risk. Yet, utility foresters do not often inspect off-right-of-way (ROW) vegetation due to constraints such as accessibility and time, which leaves many off-ROW trees unmonitored or with limited monitoring. This review focuses on the key studies addressing the application of unmanned aerial systems (UAS)-based LIDAR systems, especially in terms of UVM along electrical distribution systems. We reviewed the scientific literature in terms of the acquisition of UAS-based LIDAR data and the processing of the data. The incorporation of UAS-based LIDAR will allow utility foresters to better manage both on- and off-ROW trees to better identify tree risks and thus reduce outages and increase resiliency of distribution power lines.

Keywords: LIDAR; Unmanned Aerial Systems; Urban Forestry; Utility Forestry; Utility Vegetation Management

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