This report documents the AHMCT (Advanced Highway Maintenance & Construction Technology) research project: “LiDAR for Data Efficiency” for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). The research objective was to evaluate mobile LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to enhance safety, determine efficiency gains, accuracy benefits, technical issues, and cost benefits of using this technology with a focus on collection, processing, and storage of the data into current WSDOT business processes. Vehicle mounted terrestrial mobile LiDAR systems have been developed to capture geospatial data of large highway areas at highway speed for highway surveying, asset management, as-built documentation, and maintenance operations. This tool presents an opportunity for WSDOT to consolidate geospatial data collection operations, and improve efficiency, safety for workers, and the mobility of the traveling public. A field pilot study was conducted to collect empirical data for feasibility evaluation and cost benefit analyses. While the pilot study demonstrated the potential positive impact in WSDOT business processes, it also highlighted the need for best practices documentation for using mobile LiDAR for DOT to ensure consistent and accurate results.
Details of data collection methods and cost for WSDOT Roadside Features Inventory Program (RFIP), bridge clearance measurement, and ADA feature inventory were gathered. These programs would achieve direct cost saving in deploying mobile LiDAR system. Cost benefit analyses of seven mobile LiDAR deployment options are presented. Purchasing and operating a survey grade mobile LiDAR system produced the highest savings of $6.2 million in six years. Although deploying the survey grade mobile LiDAR system costs more, the benefits and cost saving from the bridge clearance operation and ADA feature inventory outweighs the higher cost and produces higher saving. Mobile LiDAR technology lowers the number of FTEs and vehicles needed, and also carbon dioxide emissions from data collection. The major intangible benefactors are WSDOT’s GeoMetrix Office, Geotechnical Office, Planning Office, Environmental Office, and Attorney General's (AG) Office. The technology could also be useful in other state agency application areas such as cultural heritage preservation, homeland security, construction inspection, and machine guidance in construction. Deployment of a mobile LiDAR system is recommended.