RealTime Environment Models

static1.squarespace.comFloating Point FX has introduced a new viewing environment that utilizes next generation real-time render engines to provide realistic interpretations of new or existing roadway environments. They use asset packages built from industry specifications, as well as data extracted from mobile mapping LiDAR/ Imaging.

FPFX is able to create complete, interactive environments that can be accessed locally or remotely through a web browser. Because the 3D environments are viewable in real-time, changes to lighting and conditions can be reflected immediately in the viewer. Along with providing a viewer solution, models can be exported directly to industry standard formats and can be imported into existing driving simulators or 3D visualization software.

Impressive visualization software.

 

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UAS Training and Certification

The UAS Core Group LLC is offering a comprehensive set of training and certification services for UAS pilots. Based in New Jersey the firm has extensive experience with the FAA regulations and the technology.

From their website – “UAS CORE GROUP offers a unique approach to the delivery of sUAS flight training and operations. We combine rigorous classroom-based learning, simulated flight experience and hands-on flight training to provide the building blocks needed to safely integrate sUAS into any business operation. We bring exceptional technical expertise, practical experience, and expert knowledge of sUAS regulation and evolving policy to this rapidly growing field. Our leadership in the sUAS space earned us the distinction of being the first to fly unmanned aircraft in the national airspace over New Jersey.”

UAS CORE GROUP’s motto “Ad Salvandum Una Vita” means to save one life. It reflects the public safety origins of the UAS CORE GROUP team and defines the underlying purpose, motivation, and dedication to everything we do.

Well said.

 

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Nova Scotia Issues RFP for Coastal Mapping

novaOn Tuesday, the department of internal services published a tender for a company to provide LiDAR data for eastern Nova Scotia.

“It allows us to create a really detailed map that represents the land mass here in Nova Scotia,” said Colin MacDonald, director of geographic information services for the province.

The province is looking to survey the eastern coastline first, beginning with Cape Breton, Victoria, Inverness, Richmond, Guysborough, Antigonish and Pictou.

On Tuesday, MacDonald said this was the first year of a three-to-five-year plan in which they hope to extend LiDAR mapping across the province.

Nova Scotia’s thousands of kilometres of coastline mean it is prone to the effects of climate change.

“With climate change, there are variety of things forecast of which one of them is certainly sea level rise,” said Webster. He says this technology could be used to understand the areas that are vulnerable to storm surge today and in the future.

From a forestry perspective, Webster says the data is helpful for things like planning roads and determining the slope of land.

And in an urban setting, LiDAR mapping can be used to determine building heights while ensuring residents can still view the harbour from the street.

Posted in 3D Modeling, airborne LiDAR, bathymetric, Environmental, Government, Hydrographic LiDAR, Mapping, remote sensing, Research | Tagged | Leave a comment

NSF Renews Funding for OpenTopography

openThe National Science Foundation (NSF) has renewed funding for OpenTopography, a science gateway that provides online access to Earth science oriented high-resolution topography data and processing tools.

The award, “Collaborative Research: OpenTopography — A Cyberinfrastructure Facility for Topographic Data, Services, and Knowledge” from the NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences, provides $1.365 million during the next two and-a-half years for the third phase of the project (OT3) managed by the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego; Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration; and UNAVCO, a non-profit university-governed consortium facilitating geoscience research and education in Boulder, Colorado.

OpenTopography (OT) provides earth science-related, high-resolution topography to a large and varied user community advancing research and education in areas ranging from earthquake geology to ecology and hydrology. These data are essential for the study of the earth’s surface, its vegetation, and man-made structures.

OT3 will extend support for the community-focused data facility by strengthening interoperability, providing a broadened suite of processing and data services, adding new knowledge resources, and ensuring scalability via cloud and high-performance computing (HPC).

Since its launch in 2009, OT has seen a steady rise in data holdings from its partnerships and collaborations within the academic community and beyond. Over the past six years, the OT user community and processing jobs have grown substantially with the addition of new data and algorithms that produce higher-order products of interest to a wide range of users. These include the resource-intensive TauDEM algorithms for the extraction and analysis of hydrologic information from topography, running on the Gordon supercomputer based at SDSC. Gordon is part of the NSF’s eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment, the most advanced collection of integrated digital resources and services in the world that allows scientists to interactively share computing resources, data, and expertise.

“Expanding high-performance computing integration in OT3 ensures that the growing community demand for more compute-intensive algorithms and larger job sizes are met,” said Viswanath Nandigam, the project’s principal investigator and associate director for the Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Development group at SDSC. “Having OpenTopography based at SDSC, which houses Gordon as well as NSF’s most recent Comet petascale supercomputer, has the added advantage of leveraging a wide range of HPC expertise in-house.”

With the decreasing costs of high-resolution topography data collection, via methods such as structure from motion photogrammetry from unmanned aerial vehicles, rapid growth in new data is expected.

“We recognize that these ‘long-tail’ topography data (of modest size but great value) do not have a convenient home and that OT can play a key role in data management compliance and to enable reuse of these data by a broader Earth science community,” said Christopher Crosby, Geodetic Imaging manager at UNAVCO and OpenTopography co-investigator and project manager. OT3 will develop a workflow to enable community upload and ingestion of these data, including data validation and metadata extraction, before publishing the data via the Community Contributed Datasets page.

“In OT3, outreach and user support and engagement will remain strong with continued science community service, short courses, workforce development, and rich user community interaction,” said Ramon Arrowsmith, co-investigator for the project and an associate geology professor in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

OT’s data catalog consists of 200 lidar (an acronym of light detection and ranging) point cloud datasets covering 184,327 km2 and 860 trillion lidar returns. Aerial lidar is a surveying technology that creates dense measurements of the Earth’s surface using high pulse rate laser scanners. OT also provides access to NASA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission global 1 and 3 arc second datasets, enabling topographic research around the globe.

Today, more than 12,400 users have created OT accounts, with numerous others using the system as guests; some 32,135 unique users have run more than 131,000 OT processing jobs. In addition, OT-enabled, peer-reviewed publications now exceed 200, spanning academic works in Earth science, ecology, hydrology, geospatial and computer science, and engineering.

Other SDSC researchers contributing to OpenTopography include software developers Minh Phan and Kai Lin.

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First Autonomous Vehicle Track Day

autoI have to wonder if people will get excited about autonomous vehicle racing. Will it be the car racing of the future? I am sure it will be a great test of the technology and the crashes will not involve humans which is a good thing. From the press release:

Each week researchers and car manufacturers bring us closer and closer to the reality that is autonomous vehicles. Joshua Schachter, owner and founder of selfracingcars.com, wanted to help give the technology a push. So Joshua organized the world’s first Autonomous Vehicle Track Day. The event, which took place at the end of May at the Thunderhill Raceway, was opened to anyone who wanted to test an autonomous systems or other driving innovation.

Several companies brought their vehicles to the track to test their systems, each sporting a variety of sensors and programming platforms as part of their autonomous systems. The most prominent sensor on the track, however, was Velodyne’s VLP-16 LiDAR Puck.

John Eggert, Senior Sales & Marketing Manager for Velodyne, explained that Velodyne’s LiDAR technology enables autonomous vehicles to “use algorithms to detect object and avoid collisions with other traffic participants like cars, bicycles, pedestrians, and so on.  Thanks to this multi-channel approach, the environment can be perceived in real-time rather than one by one, with a single laser.”

Two of the vehicles present, comma.ai’s Acura and the Lincoln MKZ from AutonomouStuff, boasted fully autonomous systems. Comma.ai previewed a cost-effective aftermarket system, scheduled for release later this year. The vehicle included a Velodyne HDL-32E sensor mounted on the roof and a high-end GPS/IMU combination in the trunk. The vehicle also included a platform from Wheego, a startup based in Sonoma, Calif.

Hopefully, more such Autonomous Track Days will be hosted in the future, giving car builders a chance to further test and improve their technology. “This first event was wide open to teams with any relevant mobility technologies,” Schachter said.  “Sensor technology companies like Velodyne recorded the data and posted it publicly so that others can start to understand it.  In time, we will add competition, starting with time trials, and then narrow the focus.  In order to make it easier for people to build autonomous vehicles for this event in the future, we will be publishing datasets captured from various sensors on the cars and near the track at data.selfracingcars.com.”

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Property Drone Consortium Teams with RIT

ricopterThe Property Drone Consortium (PDC), a collaboration that consists of insurance carriers, roofing industry leaders and supporting enterprises is pleased to announce a new research initiative with Rochester Institute of Technology, a renowned world leader in imaging science. The program will assess the usefulness of various Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and a variety of sensors for up close property inspection.

It appears that EagleView Technology is the key driving force behind this effort.

“The unique collaboration to enhance commercial use of unmanned aerial imaging is very powerful for the members of the PDC. The PDC expects to assess imaging technology that will enable safe operations and inspections while gleaning far more than the eye can see,” said Charles Mondello, President of the PDC.

Within the past year, the PDC has secured a number of FAA regulatory approvals including Section 333 exemption grants, a 333 amendment and blanket Certificates of Waiver or Authorization to permit the use of a variety of UAS platforms for aerial data collection including the inspection of properties for the insurance and construction industries. The PDC is working closely with the IBHS to lead the research effort that focuses on the collection and processing of intelligent images utilizing drone platforms and their subsequent assessment for property exteriors, specifically roof damage detection. Now the addition of detailed imaging sensor work will drive the awareness of drone capabilities in the sector.

“RIT looks forward to applying its expertise in remote sensing, sensor technologies, and machine learning to help the Property Drone Consortium to utilize unmanned aerial imaging to its fullest potential,” said Professor Carl Salvaggio. “We have never before had access to the data that these platforms and miniaturized sensors will allow us to collect. This data will enable us to see many roof maladies and allow our students to develop methods for automatically identifying these features from the imagery, enhancing the insurance and roofing industries ability to do an even better job of protecting their workers and the public they serve.”

PDC President Mondello explained that this research is the tip of the PDC program. “We are looking at funding additional programs in close proximity operations. The PDC is focused on partnerships within the public and private sectors to best understand how the UAS can be safely integrated in inspections and existing workflows to benefit the public,” stated Mondello.

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Elon Musk Defends Radar

tesla-model-s-autopilot-software-70aIn the face of mounting pressure, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has revealed they are already working to improve the Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system.

The technology currently relies on cameras and radar to operate the car, in the right conditions, without driver intervention. However, other automakers are also including advanced lidar (visible light detection and ranging, or laser radar) systems in their self-driving projects, seemingly leaving Tesla one step behind.

Musk, however, believes Tesla’s setup is so advanced that, with some improvements, it can replicate the details offered by lidar.

The tech-head says that by adapting its current radar systems to compare the shape of objects over time, it can produce lidar-like maps, resulting in at least “moderate” improvements to Autopilot.

Some have suggested that the recent fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S could have been prevented if the car included lidar. It appears that these suggestions have prompted Musk to push for Autopilot improvements to make it almost foolproof and, most importantly, much safer.

He also believes that radar works better in rain and snow and is much less expensive.

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It’s Not Too Late to Attend UAS Mapping

uas renoIt’s Not Too Late to Attend the Third Annual UAS Mapping Technical Demonstration and Symposium in Palm Springs, CA September 12 – 14. Sponsored by ASPRS. There is still time to make your plans, but we suggest you take this opportunity to register for this important event now.

UAS Mapping 2016 will build on the success of the two previous events in Reno. It will open with a series of four interactive, vendor workshops on Monday September 12. Presentations will be made by BAE, PrecisionHawk, Esri and Pix4D. These will be your opportunity to get immersed in the technology.

The Symposium opens on Tuesday with a keynote from Lawrie Jordan, Director of Imagery at Esri who will present his vision of the future of 3D GIS, imaging and how the UAS platforms factor into the future of data collection. In the afternoon David Kay from Keystone Aerial will discuss the use of 5 sensors in one day.

A unique feature of the conference will be a series of 15 minute presentations that will be held at three different times in the exhibit hall. This will provide the attendees with a more interactive and hands on learning experience.

Tuesday evening features a surprise event that combines UAS technology with entertainment. You don’t want to miss this.

Wednesday will feature presentations from LizardTech, GeoWing and more. Perhaps the highlight of the plenary sessions will be a panel discussing the latest developments in Beyond Visual Line of Sight. This is an area that holds tremendous promise for UAS technology.

Hope to see you there.

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Apollo 11 in 3D

apollo11It was July 20, 1969 that the Apollo 11 touched down on the moon’s surface while the rest of the world watched – and today, you can mark that anniversary by looking inside the Apollo 11’s command module, Columbia.

Until last year, the Columbia was protected by a sheet of Plexiglass in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where it has been sitting since the museum opened in 1976. But in December 2015, the Plexiglass was carefully removed so that Adam Metallo and Vince Rossi, 3D digitization program officers at the Smithsonian Institution, could scan the entire thing, inside and out. Over the next two weeks, they utilized six different capture methods and over $1.4 million worth of equipment to obtain meticulously detailed images of the module.

Because they weren’t allowed to climb inside or even touch the module, scanning it was challenging work that the team circumvented by attaching cameras and laser scanners to mechanical arms which were carefully inserted into the module. They were determined not to miss a single tiny detail.

The data gathered by the Smithsonian included about 50 laser scans and thousands of pictures taken with 5DSR cameras. Once the imaging was complete, collaborators at Autodesk converted it into the 3D model you can now see online. Traditionalists, however, need not worry – the 3D model is in no way intended to replace the module itself, which will be moved the the Air and Space Museum’s new “Destination Moon” gallery, scheduled to open at the end of the decade. One year ago today, on the 46th anniversary of the first lunar landing, it was also announced that Neil Armstrong’s preserved suit will also be present in “Destination Moon”.

command_module_spinning_model

 

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UAV – Based Magnetometer Firm Acquired

drone__20160203120903_ZHThis is the first time that I have heard of this UAV application, but it makes a lot of sense.

Alta Vista Ventures (AVV-CSE) announces the signing of a Binding Letter of Intent to purchase a 100% interest in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) division of Pioneer Exploration Consultants Ltd (“Pioneer”).

The UAV division of Pioneer specializes in providing UAV solutions to the mining and exploration industry and has successfully completed aerial surveys throughout Canada, the United States and internationally for both major and junior mining and exploration companies.

In late 2014, Pioneer developed the world’s first commercially available UAV based magnetometer survey called UAV-Aero Mag (trademarked). This proprietary survey uses ultra-sensitive magnetic equipment to aid in the discovery of diamonds, gold, silver and other types of deposits.

There are many competitive advantages to UAV based magnetometer surveys, of which the key one is not having to rely on helicopters – a significant cost saving to the client. Surveys can be flown at much lower elevations and at much closer line spacing than conventional surveys, enabling the delivery of much higher quality exploration data. Further, a UAV flies at a much slower speed than a helicopter and it is believed that that adds to much more detailed data. Additional cost savings that get passed on the client stem from the system’s portability; the entire system can be transported anywhere in the world at a fraction of the cost of a conventional airborne magnetic survey system. This allows for surveys in very remote settings and in extreme conditions.

Another area of specialization includes UAV based LiDAR surveying. LiDAR (an acronym of Light Detection And Ranging) is becoming a more popular tool for mining and exploration companies as it gives a very accurate representation of topography, even in heavily forested areas. Many junior exploration companies attracted to LiDAR surveys do not undertake surveys due to the cost of helicopter based surveys. Alta Vista believes that cost effective UAV based LiDAR surveys utilizing Pioneer’s proprietary UAV mounted system will become much more popular with junior exploration companies. As a division of Alta Vista, management will be able to quote on industrial and urban contacts – an as yet under-utilized use of this technology.

 

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