2019 LIDAR Leaders – Recap

and the winners are…

LIDAR Leaders AwardsEarlier this year, the second annual Lidar Leader Awards ceremony was held at International LiDAR Mapping Forum (ILMF) in Denver. In cooperation with the organizers of ILMF, we designed this unique program to recognize excellence in five distinct categories:

Outstanding Personal Achievement in Lidar

Outstanding Team Achievement in Lidar

Outstanding Enterprise Achievement

Outstanding Innovation in Lidar

Outstanding University Achievement in Lidar

Lisa Murray, Group Director at Diversified Communications stated of the awards, “We were delighted to host the second annual Lidar Leader Awards at International LiDAR Mapping Forum.  We started this awards series to recognize excellence in the industry and to highlight some of the amazing projects that were being presented on our program. The lidar community has enthusiastically embraced the process, nominating over 70 individual and teams for awards this year. In the spirit of the inaugural Geo Week co-location of ILMF, ASPRS and MAPPS, we shared the stage with ASPRS to present four of their prestigious industry awards. Kudos to all the winners. We look forward to recognizing your amazing contributions for many years to come.”

Dr. A. Stewart Walker, Managing Editor at Lidar Magazine agreed. “This is the second year of the Lidar Leader Awards and, during the nomination period, we hoped very much that the entries would maintain the remarkable quality that we enjoyed last year. We were not disappointed. The quality was very high indeed. We introduced two new categories this year, Outstanding Innovation in Lidar and Outstanding University Achievement in Lidar, to honor accomplishments that perhaps were not ideal fits for the three categories with which we began the awards last year. Both categories drew fine candidates and those who attended the University Lightning Round doubtless feel delighted at the talent of the next generation of lidar movers and shakers.”

An in-depth review of this year’s finalists is available here.

2019 LIDAR Leader Award Recipients

Outstanding Personal Achievement

Karl Heidemann, Physical Scientist, USGS (Retired)

Hans (Karl) Heidemann, former Physical Scientist at the USGS EROS Center, was recognized for his Outstanding Personal Achievements in the industry. Heidemann led the development of lidar standards and specifications within USGS. He was heavily involved with the National Elevation Dataset, the National Geospatial Program and the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP), and authored three releases of the USGS Lidar Base Specifications (LBS). He was a co-author of the ASPRS Positional Accuracy Standards for Digital Geospatial Data and established the ASPRS standard for the number of lidar QA/QC checkpoints in vegetated and non-vegetated terrain. He is a long-standing, active member of ASPRS, serving on numerous committees, instructing in workshops and contributing to publications.

Outstanding Team Achievement (2-99 Members)

Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetry Technical Center of Expertise (JALBTCX) Team

The Outstanding Team Achievement in Lidar was awarded to the Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetry Center of Expertise (JALBTCX) Team for their efforts in acquiring airborne lidar bathymetry multiple times along the United States coastline as well as in Alaska, Hawaii and the U.S. territories. Additionally, the team acquired emergency response data following natural disasters such as Katrina, Sandy, Matthew, Irma, Maria and Florence. The data is used to analyze beach and dune response to storms, assess shoreline changes and support coastal resiliency. The efforts of the JALBTCX team continue to advance airborne lidar bathymetry and coastal mapping technology to greatly benefit the mapping industry.

Outstanding Enterprise Achievement (100+ Members)


Winning the Outstanding Enterprise Achievement Award was Woolpert, for providing many high-level contributions to the lidar industry in service, management and development ever since lidar technology was introduced. A sample of Woolpert’s accomplishments include: working with USGS to acquire and process over 350,000 square miles of lidar data in support of the 3DEP program; evaluating and improving data workflow, that led the design, integration and testing of BuckEye’s next-generation airborne sensor; and supporting US Army Corps of Engineers/JALBTCX’ bathymetric and topographic lidar acquisition.

Outstanding Innovation in lidar

AEye for the AE110 Artificial Perception System

New this year, AEye was the first to take home the Outstanding Innovation in Lidar award for the creation of the AE110 Artificial Perception System. The AE110 is a solid-state artificial perception system that takes a disruptive approach to vehicle perception. Its distributed system fuses solid-state agile lidar with a low-light HD camera, then integrates artificial intelligence to capture more intelligent information with less data. By using a distributed, software-definable system that embeds computer vision with machine and deep learning on its lidar, the AE110 puts perception engineers in control and brings intelligence to the sensor layer, which enables the type of precision and real-time perception that is critical to the rollout of safe autonomous vehicle systems.

Outstanding University Achievement (Three Categories)

A. Albright—University of Houston

(Most Innovative Use)

Hasso Plattner Institut

(Most Commercially Feasible) +

(People’s Choice Award)

The Outstanding University Achievement in Lidar category awarded three winners this year following the University Lightning Round took which took place on Monday, January 28. Participants of the Lightning Round were judged on awards up for grabs in three categories, including: 1) Most commercially feasible; 2) Most innovative use of lidar; and 3) People’s Choice.

Soeren Discher and Rico Richter of Hasso Plattner Institut took home the most commercially feasible award, delivering a presentation on the value of point clouds: solutions for management, analysis and presentation. Andrea Albright of University of Houston won the most innovative use of lidar award with an impressive presentation on measuring breaking waves using lidar technology. Finally, the crowd voted on the People’s Choice award, again awarding it to Hasso Plattner Institute. Each university gave remarkable presentations to an audience of geospatial and academia professionals alike.

ILMF and Lidar Magazine are excited to continue celebrating excellence in 2020 and for years to come and congratulate all the nominees and winners for their work in advancing lidar.