Several scanning, single photon sensitive, 3D imaging lidars are herein described that operate at aircraft above ground levels (AGLs) between 1 and 11 km, and speeds in excess of 200 knots. With 100 beamlets and laser fire rates up to 60 kHz, we, at the Sigma Space Corporation (Lanham, MD, USA), have interrogated up to 6 million ground pixels per second, all of which can record multiple returns from volumetric scatterers such as tree canopies. High range resolution has been achieved through the use of subnanosecond laser pulsewidths, detectors and timing receivers. The systems are presently being deployed on a variety of aircraft to demonstrate their utility in multiple applications including large scale surveying, bathymetry, forestry, etc. Efficient noise filters, suitable for near realtime imaging, have been shown to effectively eliminate the solar background during daytime operations. Geolocation elevation errors measured to date are at the subdecimeter level. Key differences between our Single Photon Lidars, and competing Geiger Mode lidars are also discussed.
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