Laser scanners are instruments that are able to measure the location of hundreds of thousands of points at a very high speed, in order to define the surface of determined objects. The result of this survey is a very dense set of points which is called "point cloud".
There are several useful parameters to define the characteristics of a laser scanner:
- Range: maximum distance that the scanner is able to measure;
- Speed: number of points obtained in every second;
- Accuracy: the difference between the measured point and the real point;
- Precision: the ability of the instrument to return the same value in multiple measurements;
- Laser class: the danger of the laser beam emitted from the instrument; it goes from Class 1 (completely harmless) to Class IV (very dangerous);
- Integrated devices: the ability to integrate other software or devices.
In addition, there are other features that affect the logistics (transport facilities, light weight, maneuverability), the operating mode (stand-alone solution, direct control of the instrument) and the timing (rapid acquisition and wider field of view).