Working with LiDAR Data and FME

Liz Sanderson
Liz Sanderson
  • Updated


LiDAR is changing how we model our world in 3D, bringing with it new data transformation challenges and huge data volumes. For a high-level overview of how FME can help you with LiDAR, see our website

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Content Overview 


LiDAR Terminology 

LiDAR: stands for “Light Detection and Ranging”. This remote sensing technology can be mounted to aerial vehicles to send laser pulses to the Earth’s surface and once the laser has returned to the sensor it records the data returned. A LiDAR system usually comprises of a laser, a scanner, a GPS receiver, an inertial measurement unit, and an onboard computer.
Point Cloud: commonly the product of a LiDAR system, it is a collection of points useful for storing large amounts of data. Each point in the point cloud can hold information, called components, which contains a value that describes the point. Components may include X, Y, and Z coordinates as well as information about the intensity, color, time, and many more not listed here.
Returns: when a laser pulse bounces off an object it is processed to determine what it bounced off of. I.e. bare earth, trees, cars, buildings. These are called returns. Up to five returns can be captured per laser pulse. 
Classification: returns can be classified to define the type of object that has reflected the laser pulse. The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing has developed a set of standard classifications for LiDAR-derived data.
LAS: a common LiDAR Data Exchange Format that contains LiDAR point records. Is used for the interchange of 3-dimensional point cloud data. It has less volume and is more easily transferred than the ASCII format. 


Getting Started Articles 

Getting Started with Point Clouds  

Intermediate Articles 

Tutorial: Point Cloud Transformations Data distribution for Point Cloud Data
Transformers to use with Point Clouds
Converting Point Clouds to Surface Models Using the PointCloudLASClassifier
Creating Rasters and DEMs from Point Clouds
Clipping and Tiling Point Cloud Data
LiDAR and Coordinate Systems

Advanced Articles

Before completing the following articles be sure to work through the Getting Started Articles first.
Using LiDAR Waveform Attributes in FME
Point Clouds for Profiling and Slicing
Volume Measurements with the VolumeCalculator

Format Documentation 

ASPRS LiDAR Data Exchange Format (LAS) Reader/Writer
Point Cloud XYZ Reader/Writer
Point Cloud Data Reader/Writer
Space Delimited XYZ Reader
Cesium 3D Point Cloud Reader/Writer
CARIS Spatial Archive (CSAR) Point Cloud Reader/Writer

Top Questions and Answers

Generate simple trees from Point Cloud (LIDAR)
Question regarding thinning out point clouds

Additional Resources


Think like a point cloud: Tips for effective data processing 
Top 4 LiDAR and Point Cloud Processing Workflows


Wood vs Wings [FME World Tour 2020]


LAS to PDF 3D (DEM and TIN)
Point Cloud XYZ to DEM 
PXT Point Cloud Reader


How to generate DEMs and HIllshades from LiDAR files [4:36]
LiDAR Processing: How to thin, combine, and convert point cloud data [3:08]


5 Ways to Improve Your LiDAR Workflows [40:20]


Oracle Spatial Point Cloud Troubleshooting

Known Issues

For a list of Known Issues, see the following articles: 2021.x2020.x2019.x2018.x2017.x


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