Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Civil Engineering


Civil Engineering

Major Advisor

Mandar Khanal, Ph.D., P.E.


Bhaskar Chittoori, Ph.D., P.E.


Mojtaba Sadegh, Ph.D.


The use of Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar) is widespread currently all over the world including the United States. Though on-the-ground surveying and photogrammetric surveying are the more common methods to acquire terrain information, Lidar data is being increasingly used for this purpose due to its various advantages. Various research indicates that the accuracy of Lidar data has increased enough to make its use suitable for diverse applications. One potential application that is explored in this research is the use of terrain models generated from Lidar data in road design. To make such use possible we need to be assured that the accuracy of terrain models developed from Lidar data is comparable to models obtained from traditional land surveying techniques. Such assertions were tested in this research.

Lidar data collected using airplanes, terrestrial vehicles, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) were examined for use in highway geometric design. As current on-the-ground surveying methods take time, are costly, and have other operational constraints, it was worthwhile looking for alternative methods. We used ‘Bentley’s OpenRoads Designer CONNECT Edition’ and ‘ArcMAP’ 10.6 edition from ESRI to process the data. The data were obtained from the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), District 5 for a section of US 30 through Georgetown, Idaho. Elevations of selected points from aerial Lidar, mobile-terrestrial Lidar, UAV-captured Lidar, and traditional surveying methods were obtained and compared. Other statistical analyses were also performed to compare the four sets of elevations. We also calculated Root Mean Squared Errors (RMSE) for different slopes of the ground as well as Road-Surface and Non-Road-Surface to find out the accuracy of Lidar on different surfaces. A cost comparison was performed to aid in the selection of the best alternative.