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I was wondering if there is an option to convert LAS (LIDAR data) to raster or GRID format that ArcGIS could read it.

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5 Answers 5

In ArcGIS the workflow for importing LAS is to Import Las to Multipoint (tool of the same name) then create a terrain dataset. You can then use the Terrain to Raster tool if need be. (Required 3D Analyst)

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One option is using the command line LDA2ASCII from Fusion to convert las files to ASCII format (.txt).

The LDA2ASCII syntax is:

LDA2ASCII InputFile OutputFile format

Suppose the following:

  • Fusion is stored under c:\Fusion.
  • the las file name is project.las.
  • project.las is stored in: c:\Lidar.
  • the new txt file will be saved at: c:\LiDAR.
  • its name will be: project.txt

Hint: use an text editor to write Fusion's program commands (e.g. Notepad++). Save it with .bat extension. Then, write:

Retrieve the following information: X, Y and Elevation.

c:\Fusion\LDA2ASCII c:\Lidar\project.las c:\Lidar\project.txt 0

Or if the .las files contain other information such as: Pulse, Return, X, Y, Elevation, Nadir and Intensity:

c:\Fusion\LDA2ASCII c:\Lidar\project.las c:\Lidar\project.txt 1

Save the .bat file, and then execute it (shortcut = F5)

Open project.txt in ArcGIS.

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What about LAStools? In particular lasgrid, las2dem, or las2tin. It has a GUI - lastool.exe now too.

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All LAStools now have a GUI. With las2shp.exe (README) you can convert from LAS to SHP Multipoint. – Martin Isenburg Feb 13 '12 at 12:47
We appreciate replies from vendors and other commercially interested parties, Martin, but in such cases to retain credibility it's crucial that you identify your connection with the solution you are recommending. – whuber Feb 13 '12 at 15:47

There are also some options if you want to work entirely within ArcGIS. First, you need to make an LAS Dataset. This is basically a dataset with a symbolic link to your LAS files that ArcMap can read. Once you have this, you can filter, investigate, and view your point cloud. To create a DEM or other raster from the LAS data, you then need to use the LAS Dataset To Raster tool. If you want the ground elevations, you MUST make sure you have your LiDAR data filtered to display ONLY ground returns (use the LAS toolbar). If you want some other raster surface, filter your points accordingly. You will have many options, but make sure to use a grid cell size that is appropriate to the point spacing and to the analysis you want to do.

Edit: This is only available in the Advanced/ArcInfo level license.

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If you have ArcGIS:

  1. Use LAS To Multipoint (3D Analyst)
  2. Create a terrain
  3. Load Convert to DEM & add breaklines

There are tools here.

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