LiDAR Technology at Your Fingertips
Introducing the World’s Largest LiDAR Resource Exchange Marketplace
|Alejandra Espinosa |
Director of Marketing
In collaboration with:
President and CEO
Key Accounts Manager
Airborne 1 Corporation
El Segundo, Calif.
"The answer to that question is eBay…"
That is what my boss said three years ago during the company’s annual strategic planning meetings. My boss: Todd Stennett, President and CEO of Airborne 1 Corporation, a Los Angeles-based provider of LiDAR (a laser mapping technology known as Light Detection and Ranging). The question: "How can we radically improve value for customers shopping for LiDAR services?"
"But an eBay-like Web site for just one seller? Wouldn’t that be a little overkill?" I thought to myself. eBay (San Jose, Calif.) has become a very successful company by building a network of 100 million buyers and sellers throughout the world. It seemed obvious to me that in order to satisfy the huge demand for LiDAR services, Airborne 1 would need the help of additional sensor owners across the industry.
With a "LiDAR community" mindset, and seeking to enhance the value proposition for LiDAR data and products to consumers of these services through an online marketplace, LiDARXCHANGE was created. After three years of extensive research, market analysis, product development, and rigorous testing, LiDARXCHANGE.com was launched this past February by a world-wide network of LiDAR sensor owners, including Airborne 1.
LiDARXCHANGE.com allows LiDAR and geospatial professionals to post, view, rent, or buy available LiDAR system capacity and related resources online. The site also offers a low-cost solution that lets users track the location of LiDAR sensors and aircraft across the globe in real time, using a GPS-based tracking device developed exclusively for LiDARXCHANGE called X-TRACKER, which sends location and other information to the site via satellite. (See Figure 1.)
Like eBay, LiDARXCHANGE seeks to benefit the buyer just as much as the seller. Buyers enjoy the convenience of a one-stop shop to buy or rent LiDAR and related services or assets. Since all assets posted on the exchange board are arranged by region, buyers can select to work with local providers, which will in turn result in better logistics as well as cost savings in ferrying and other fees. Alternatively, they can shop for the closest planned selected sensor at a selected date in the future. LiDARXCHANGE buyers can also post their needs for a specific asset, in case none of the items currently listed on the site meets their projects’ requirements. In addition, LiDARXCHANGE provides a user-friendly format for buyers with complex project arrangements, particularly for projects requiring multiple sensors, aircraft, and/or personnel. (See Figures 2 and 3.)
|Figure 1 - LiDAR-XCHANGE Asset Tracking Page |
Sellers find that LiDARXCHANGE provides an effective forum for them to make their assets’ capacities available to a broader audience. With LiDAR sensor prices ranging between $500,000 and $1.4 million, keeping a high utilization rate for the LiDAR system is vital. The site provides LiDAR system owners with new revenue opportunities that help increase their sensors’ utilization rates, which would otherwise average a mere 10 to 20 percent annually.
|Figure 2 - LiDAR System — Optech ALTM3100 |
(Courtesy of Optech Inc.)
Resources such as digital cameras and GPS ground stations, as well as field operations and data processing personnel, can also be posted on LiDARXCHANGE. The site can be viewed as a marketing platform for companies to post their assets and LiDAR services, allowing them to stay in full control of their pricing, the information that is displayed, and their online visibility, which can be turned on or off at the seller’s will.
At times, a seller may become a buyer. LiDAR sensor owners often find themselves in situations where, due to logistical challenges such as bad weather, project delays, and equipment malfunctions, immediate access to LiDAR sensor capacity is needed in order to replace their own. Finding a fast solution is critical in these situations to avoid additional delays or the threat of overlap with other projects. LiDARXCHANGE’s around-the-clock online access provides the latest information about available sensor capacity, allowing users to find the most expeditious solution to their problem.
LiDAR companies that were previously spending valuable time flying sensors and equipment across the globe for new projects can now use LiDARXCHANGE to buy capacity from the closest available sensor to the project’s site. By increasing their revenues, reducing their costs, improving their productivity, and enhancing their competitiveness, LiDARXCHANGE enables sellers to get the most out of their assets.
There are currently more than 120 LiDAR assets worldwide — enough to gain logistical, industry-wide coordination, and to fulfill demand. Only a few months after its launch in February 2006, LiDARXCHANGE has already gathered the participation of over 40% of the LiDAR sensors in the commercial sector, making it the largest fleet of LiDAR sensors in the world. Behind the concept’s success are the participants who, along with Airborne 1, have had an essential role in creating and refining the online exchange. LiDARXCHANGE participants hold a common belief that by sharing cost savings with the market, LiDAR players will collectively drive far higher and more stable collection and processing volumes throughout the industry.
Interested parties can learn more about LiDARXCHANGE by visiting www.lidarXchange.com and creating a free user account. The site is under constant revision for the addition of new tools and mechanisms to enhance the user’s LiDARXCHANGE experience. Feedback and questions are welcomed at feedback@lidarXchange.com.
This year’s strategic planning meetings are currently taking place. What will the boss think of next? Stay tuned!