RIEGL Contributed to Groundbreaking Multi-Enterprise LiDAR Benchmarking Study

Feature Image: Data Image capturing the overview of targets used
during LiDAR Benchmarking test

RIEGL recently contributed to the first large-scale field test to benchmark auto LiDAR performance using calibrated targets with the intent of making the results public, and was implemented as part of the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing meeting in Orlando held earlier this year. By providing the use of a VZ-400i Terrestrial Laser Scanner, RIEGL was used as the reference dataset for the site and targets. This project is planned to be a multi-year endeavor and will help pave the way for additional comparative research and testing, ideally contributing to the development of industry-recognized standard measurements for LiDAR performance.

“At SPIE 2022, there were a series of Benchmarking tests of automotive LiDARs for autonomous vehicle control.” said James Van Rens, Senior Vice President of RIEGL USA. “Riegl was honored to be able support this critically important test.  Our VZ-400i was the instrument that was used to determine the base map and target determination.  The VZ-400i is a high performance stationary terrestrial lidar that provided the precision and flexibility for the Benchmarking test.”

The test included ten LiDAR devices and was held at Orlando’s NeoCity, a research epicenter for smart sensors. The benchmarking study results explored the performance of the various LiDAR systems – including their range, accuracy, and image resolution – using calibrated targets and an array of typical road signs, barriers, and cones distributed at various distances.

Figure 2: High reflectivity targets adjacent to 10% Labsphere targets​ at NeoCity test site

To establish a highly accurate “ground truth” dataset as a baseline, the 3D data from each automotive LiDAR was compared to a survey-grade LiDAR system, in this case, the RIEGL VZ-400i. Variations from ground truth are being analyzed by a group from Michigan Technological University led by Professor Jeremy Bos; the Exciting Technology team; and Charlie Kershner of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.  

“One of the first things we needed to solve was figuring out an efficient process to capture the arrangement of all the targets in the test array and the surrounding features in a very accurate way.” said Charlie Kershner, Branch Chief, Lidar/High Resolution 3D Image Sciences for the national Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. “We decided to partner with RIEGL to use one of their i-series instruments to collect the 3D reference data we need due to its sub-cm accuracy, precision, rapid collection speed, ease of post-processing in RiSCAN Pro, and RIEGL’s market separation from the autonomous vehicle segment. The reference dataset collected with the VZ-400i is precisely what we needed, and we want to thank Riegl for their participation and assistance.”

Figure 3: Side view of captured data with each color representing a different LiDAR. RIEGL is represented by the Cyan color and sets the “Ground Truth”

A full analysis of the results will be published in a forthcoming special section on autonomous vehicles in the SPIE journal Optical Engineering. Each participating vendor will only see their results and aggregated results will not be labelled.

Read more on the current stage of this project at: Toward standard tests for automotive lidar systems (spie.org)


RIEGL is an international leading provider of cutting-edge technology in airborne, mobile, terrestrial, industrial and unmanned laser scanning solutions for applications in surveying.

RIEGL has been producing LiDAR systems commercially for over 40 years and focuses on pulsed time-of-flight laser radar technology in multiple wavelengths.

RIEGL’s core Smart-Waveform technologies provide pure digital LiDAR signal processing, unique methodologies for resolving range ambiguities, multiple targets per laser shots, optimum distribution of measurements, calibrated amplitudes and reflectance estimates, as well as the seamless integration and calibration of systems.

RIEGL’s Ultimate LiDARTM 3D scanners offer a wide array of performance characteristics and serve as a platform for continuing Innovation in 3D for the LiDAR industry.

From the first inquiry, to purchase and integration of the system, as well as training and support, RIEGL maintains an outstanding history of reliability and support to their customers.

Worldwide sales, training, support and services are delivered from RIEGL’s headquarters in Austria and in the USA; main offices in, Japan, China, Australia, Canada and the UK; and a worldwide network of representatives.



About SPIE

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, brings engineers, scientists, students, and business professionals together to advance light-based science and technology. The Society, founded in 1955, connects and engages with our global constituency through industry-leading conferences and exhibitions; publications of conference proceedings, books, and journals in the SPIE Digital Library; and career-building opportunities. Over the past five years, SPIE has contributed more than $22 million to the international optics community through our advocacy and support, including scholarships, educational resources, travel grants, endowed gifts, and public-policy development. http://www.spie.org.

About the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) delivers world-class geospatial intelligence that provides a decisive advantage to policymakers, military service members, intelligence professionals and first responders. 

Anyone who sails a U.S. ship, flies a U.S. aircraft, makes national policy decisions, fights wars, locates targets, responds to natural disasters, or even navigates with a cellphone relies on NGA. 

NGA enables all of these critical actions and shapes decisions that impact our world through the indispensable discipline of geospatial intelligence (GEOINT). 

NGA is a unique combination of intelligence agency and combat support agency. It is the world leader in timely, relevant, accurate and actionable GEOINT. NGA enables the U.S. intelligence community and the Department of Defense (DOD) to fulfill the president’s national security priorities to protect the nation. NGA also anticipates its partners’ future needs and advances the GEOINT discipline to meet them. 

NGA is the lead federal agency for GEOINT and manages a global consortium of more than 400 commercial and government relationships. The director of NGA serves as the functional manager for GEOINT, the head of the National System for Geospatial Intelligence (NSG) and the coordinator of the global Allied System for Geospatial Intelligence (ASG). In this capacity, the director is charged with synchronizing operations to realize a professional, interoperable, agile and integrated GEOINT enterprise. NGA receives guidance and oversight from DOD, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and Congress. 

NGA is headquartered in Springfield, Virginia, and has two major locations in St. Louis and Arnold, Missouri. Approximately 14,500 civilian, military and contractor employees work across more than 100 locations in the U.S. and 20 international locations. Hundreds of NGA employees also serve on support teams at U.S. military, diplomatic and allied locations around the world. 


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