Full Waveform Data From NEON

waveform-lidar-sample-dataIf you have been looking for an opportunity to experiment with full waveform data the NEON project has announced a new release of NEON Airborne Observation Platform (AOP) sample data, which is now available on the Airborne Data page.

NEON AOP data is collected over NEON field sites using various sensors mounted on a Twin Otter plane. These sensors include a Hyperspectral Imaging Spectrometer, a LiDAR system and a High Resolution Red Blue Green (RGB) camera. Key measurements are derived from these instruments yielding high level data products, such as: Vegetation Leaf Area Index, Total biomass, Vegetation indices, Ecosystem structure, Canopy biogeochemistry, Land Cover, Ground Elevation and Digital Surface Model.

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Getting REAL

REAL 2015 is delivering on its promise of being a different kind of event as compared to SPAR for instance. It is more collaborative, more interdisciplinary, more inclusive, but its still a user conference with speakers and vendors. A lot of people like the venue – an old waterfront building at a former military installation on beautiful San Francisco Bay. The layout has two speaker stages back to back with just a curtain separating them – very annoying.

Autodesk deserves a lot of credit for staging this kind of event and encouraging this kind of dialogue and thought process. It will be interesting to see what the follow on is.


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REAL 2015 Opens Today

I am at the second venue REAL 2015 in my most favorite city San Francisco, CA. The new look conference kicks off today with REAL Stories followed by REAL Making, REAL Mobile, REAL Construction – you get the idea.

I will update you.

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ILMF 2015 DAY 2 – Fisheye Cameras

One of the more impressive presentations at ILMF 2015 today came from Christoph Strecha, the CEO of Pix4D. He discussed the research they had done with fisheye cameras, concluding that the accuracy of the fisheye was as good as a perspective lens, but when combined with the dramatic decrease in the number of photos required to capture a given scene the fisheye was a clear winner.

He also reported on a detailed comparison that was made of the 3D documentation of a 21 building castle in Switzerland between laser scanning and digital cameras. After a rigorous analysis they found that the accuracy of the point clouds was quite similar.

Despite reports to the contrary photogrammetry is alive and well.

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UAVs and Photon Counting

Here are the key highlights from Day 1 at ILMF 2015:

  1. The ASPRS Hot Topics session and the UAV/UAS workshop were very well attended.
  2. Two out of three keynotes focused on UAVs with Dr. Sega stressing a systems approach to the technology and Gretchen West providing a lot of detail on the FAA approval process. It is looking like 2017 before the rules will take affect.
  3. The exhibit hall was very busy throughout the afternoon. There did not seem to be a real standout product announcement with the exception of the Geiger mode system being stood up by Harris.
  4. And on that topic the breakout session on photo counting which included four papers was standing room only.

Looks like a very successful start to this event. I am off to San Francisco this afternoon for REAL 2015. It was great to see Don Weigel, VP of Product for Airware, a start-up that is looking to become the standard software platform for UAVs,

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Postage Stamp Sized Lidar

Quanergy announced a lidar system for vehicles at an initial price of $2,500 (two 8-laser sensors at $1000 each and $500 for an Nvidia Tegra K1 based processing unit with artificial intelligence software).

By 2018, they are expecting to have a third-generation system in place which will be the size of a postage stamp and will sell for under $100. I want to see that.

Thanks to Bill Gutelius for the heads up.

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Rare Stegosaurus Now in 3D

3D_printed_StegosaurusThe British Museum of Natural History recently acquired a rare stegosaurus fossil found in Wyoming. As part of their research and conservation they have had the fossil scanned by voxeljet, a German company that had their subsidiary Proshop create a 3D model and then 3D print parts of the skeleton.

‘I’m very proud of how things turned out,’ says Enright. ‘We’ve been using this mix of cutting edge technology and highly skilled craftsmanship for some time now, and it’s great to see it finding new applications and reaching new audiences. The Natural History Museum is thrilled with the scan data, the modelling and the 3D printed touch objects. It’s incredibly forward looking, and I’m certain there will be further scope for future collaboration.’

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Geiger Mode Lidar Sensor

I had the opportunity to learn more about the Harris Geospatial geiger mode technology that they recently announced. Kurt Feldbush, Commercial Geospatial Lead explained that this technology has a 15 year track record of use with the federal government. This will be the first commercial use of the system, but it is not new.

Harris does not intend to sell the sensor or the processing software. Instead they will work with a designated group of industry partners. The business model is more like that of a satellite data provider.

Given the design of the system the quantity of data that is being generated is huge which has required Harris to develop a sophisticated data management strategy that is part of the overall service offering.

One example that Kurt described was flood mapping. Currently the USGS has been accepting two points per square meter when the spec was actually eight. Kurt noted that they will be able to provide the eight by flying at 29,000 feet and 290 knots for the same price as is currently being paid for two.

Finally, the accuracy assessment is more like that of photogrammetric bundle adjustment than the current QA/QC techniques used for linear sensors.

It will be very interesting to track the use of this system and the impact that it has on the industry. Let me know what you think.




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ILMF and REAL Are Next Week

I am beginning to prepare for next week’s kickoff of our industry’s conference events, assuming I can get out of Boston on time.  It opens with ILMF 2015 in Denver, CO on Monday and then I jump over to San Francisco for the Autodesk REAL 2015 inaugural event midweek.

It is going to be an exciting week. I hope to see many of you in person and if you are not attending I will be keeping you informed of all the latest developments.

To get the juices flowing Harris has pre-announced what could be an order of magnitude improvement in airborne lidar sensor performance with the first commercial Geiger mode sensor. Stay tuned to Lidar News.

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Preserving Mount Vernon in 3D

Michael Raphael shared this video of a presentation at the recent Esri Federal GIS Conference. His firm, Direct Dimensions has been heavily involved in this ground breaking preservation project.

The goal is to create a HBIM – a “Historic” BIM to house the as-built 3D data as well as the incredible amount of historic information associated with most all aspects of the plantation. More details to follow on this concept.

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