Case Study: Certus Evo Helps Nextcore's UAV LiDAR Fly To New Heights

Certus Evo Nextcore

Nextcore is an Australian-based company who specialise in making UAV-mounted LiDAR systems. Established in 2012, Nextcore’s solutions have been used in the mining industry, by surveyors and environmental specialists all over the world. 

If there’s one thing that defines the Nextcore team it’s their passion to continually improve the technology of UAV LiDAR in order to make cost-effective, reliable equipment that is easy to use. This led to the RN80 project, a UAV-mounted LiDAR payload that could be flown higher in the air and still deliver a survey-grade dataset.

The Challenge: : Creating UAV-mounted LiDAR that can fly at 80 meters above ground level

Previously Nextcore’s UAV-mounted LiDAR could only fly at 50 metres above the ground, which ran the risk of colliding with vegetation. To avoid this, the team set the goal of increasing their altitude to 80 metres above the ground. Flying higher was a desirable feature for several of Nextcore’s clients who were navigating mountainous terrain, like Japan and Malaysia, so they needed the ability to fly higher with their drones. 

Operation at this altitude not only reduces the risk of collisions with trees, it also enables surveyors to cover larger areas, greatly improving the solution’s efficiency. However, this ambition came with increasing risk. 

“The problem with flying a UAV LiDAR payload higher off the ground is the higher you fly the more inaccuracies you build into the LiDAR dataset” says Ashley Cox, COO and Co-Founder at Nextcore. 

Tom Simmons, Nextcore’s Technical Officer adds that the challenges of flying higher are attributed to the accuracy and reliability of the IMU (inertial measurement unit) in use. “You’re really relying on your IMU accuracy at that point and any inaccuracy you’ve got in your IMU will be reflected in your LiDAR” says Tom. “It will lead to a decrease in accuracy and it won’t be usable data in surveying metrics.” 

“The challenge was finding hardware we could put into the system that would allow us to achieve a survey-grade outcome even though we were flying our drones higher” says Ashley. 

Certus Evo GNSS/INS

The Solution: The Certus Evo

After reviewing the different inertial navigation systems available on the market, the Nextcore team selected Advanced Navigation’s Certus Evo to be used in the RN80 payload. 

The Certus Evo was chosen because: 

  1. It was highly accurate, reducing any angular errors from flying higher
  2. It was easy to integrate into Nextcore’s existing systems
  3. It was cost effective, allowing Nextcore to pass their savings on to their customers

Nextcore had previously used Advanced Navigation’s Spatial Dual, and were excited to test how the Certus Evo would enable the success of their UAV-mounted LiDAR. 

“After doing some test flights it met all of our requirements for the RN80 project” reflects Tom. “This allowed us to leverage off the Spatial Dual integration and apply the Certus Evo as a drop-in replacement for that system. It’s also a very cost-effective sensor and a competitively priced product”.  

The Outcome: Soaring above expectations

“When we had done our calculations we expected we’d be able to fly 80 metres above ground level” says Ashley. Instead, the Certus Evo performed so well it enabled Nexctore to produce a UAV-mounted LiDAR that operates at 100 metres above the ground, exceeding their initial goal. 

This became the RN100 UAV LiDAR, which allows Nextcore’s customers to fly more safely, cover a larger area and still achieve a survey-grade outcome. 

“Integrating the Certus Evo into our product line has allowed us to offer a higher-end solution to our clients at a very affordable price” says Tom. “This has opened up new markets for us internationally and domestically”. 

The Certus Evo in detail

The Certus Evo was developed by Advanced Navigation to be a ultra high accuracy GNSS/INS solution. It’s composed of temperature calibrated MEMS accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers and a pressure sensor with a dual antenna RTK GNSS receiver. Combined with Advanced Navigation’s sophisticated fusion algorithm, the Certus Evo is an accurate and reliable navigation solution.

The Certus Evo is a proven solution for a range of applications: 

  • Marine Surveying 
  • Motorsports
  • Antenna Targeting
  • Robotics

Learn more about the Certus Evo 

To learn more about Advanced Navigation’s Certus Evo get in touch with our team to find out how our navigation solution can enable high performance for your project.


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