Automated Inventory Using Smart Drones

Maintaining an accurate warehouse inventory can be a very tedious process. Attempts to automate the workflow face a number of challenges such as fast turn around and lack of survey control.

It looks like Exyn Technologies which emerged from the University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Labs has commercialized groundbreaking research to build its proprietary AI software, exynAI™, technology from the ground-up. Today, Exyn Technologies provides leading AI software and A3R hardware, which together form its fully autonomous aerial robot that safely executes complex missions in high-value commercial operations, like warehouses.

Velodyne LiDAR’s VLP-16 Puck LITE LiDAR sensors are also part of the solution. It is now integrated into Exyn Technologies’ Advanced Autonomous Aerial Robots (A3R) and will be flying in large warehouses and distribution centers to autonomously scan and map inventory, helping to increase frequency and accuracy of cycle counts, reduce turn around time and decrease risk to workers.

“Using Velodyne’s VLP-16, Exyn’s A3Rs do not need GPS, beacons or markers,” said Nader Elm, chief executive officer of Exyn Technologies. “This technology is being developed to ease logistical bottlenecks in warehouses, as well as to go into other indoor and GPS-limited environments such as commercial construction sites and first-responder situations. We operate in a full 3D volumetric space and can dynamically plan flight paths in complex, dynamic and cluttered environments.”

The Velodyne VLP-16 is the primary sensor for simultaneous localization and mapping, as well as part of the sense-and-avoid capabilities and state estimation. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) robot scans in all fields of view, reading barcodes and RFID beacons, judging location and numbers of stock. The vehicle can even note worker positions and react accordingly in real-time.


Posted in AI, airborne LiDAR, Autonomous vehicles, Indoor Mapping, Sensors, SLAM, UAS, UAVs | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Media Survey – Make Your Opinion Count

Here’s your chance to influence the 3D lidar industry and make your opinion count. Lidar News invites you to participate in a brief, online Media Survey. Your input on these important topics is highly valued and we think you’ll find it interesting.

We understand that your time is limited so there are only 17, short answer questions that should take you no longer than 5 to 10 minutes to answer.

The results will be published on the Lidar News website. The survey will be open through April 27, 2018.

Thank you in advance for your support. Together we can provide important feedback to the industry.

To take the survey click here.

Posted in 3D Modeling, Business Development, Marketing, Research, The Industry | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Preserving the Old with the New

Photo by EDG

EDG is a New York City architectural design studio that is using 3D laser scanning and 3D printing to conserve and restore the intricate details of historic building facades that cannot be duplicated in today’s construction environment.

It makes you stop and wonder how it was possible to justify the cost of all of this hand work a hundred years ago when today with all of the 3D technology it is not even close to being cost effective.

Speaking to Designboom, EDG said “Facade ornamentation in the classical style remains impossible to produce by current means. Architectural hand sculpting would be an exorbitant luxury if not also a lost art, laser cutting remains prohibitively expensive, and precast concrete is creatively limiting.”

Traditional 3D additive printing methods that create solids are also cost and time prohibitive, but by using 3D printed plastic molds EDG can produce the required pieces on-site, within a day. The molds are created from 3D laser scans of the as-found architectural detail.

It may not be as beautiful as the original up close, but from 20′ you probably cannot tell the difference.

A mold 3D printed by EDG, to produce the column on the right. Photos via EGD.


Posted in 3D Modeling, 3D Printing, Business Development, cultural heritage, Historic Preservation | Tagged | Leave a comment

CyArk and Google Combine Forces

CyArk is teaming up with Google Arts and Culture to offer an online 3D library of cultural heritage sites around the world. Ben Kacyra grew up in Mosul, Iraq and for the past 15+ years has been on a mission to record as many cultural heritage sites around the world as time and resources will allow.

The website has been named Open Heritage. The project includes a collection of open-source data and visual representations of heritage sites around the world. Currently it documents 27 sites in 15 countries, including the Maya ruins of Chichén Itzá in Mexico, the ancient city of Bagan in Myanmar, and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., with more sites to be added in the future.

“We want to use the most current technology available to us to digitally document and record a lasting blueprint to preserve it digitally in the event it is lost in the future,” says Google Arts & Culture program manger Chance Coughenour in an interview with Coughenour coordinates cultural heritage preservation efforts for Google Arts & Culture, including this latest project with CyArk.

According to Google, the Open Heritage is the world’s largest archive of this type of open-source heritage data. The idea is to use the search giant as a platform for users to access these places, some of which they may never have a chance to see in person. “We’re just visualizing it for them,” as Coughenour says. “It’s giving people the chance to virtually explore and learn about a new location maybe they’ve never heard of before.”



Posted in 3D Modeling, archaeology, art, cultural heritage, Historic Preservation | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Leica BLK360 – Here’s How it Works

Popular YouTuber and trained cinematographer Matt Workman has created a very practical and easy to understand video about Leica Geosystems BLK360. Bottom line – he thinks the BLK 360 has many applications in the film industry, particularly for pre-production . With over 180,000 followers of his YouTube channel his opinion counts.

In the video he explains the device and demonstrates how to operate it. The device scans real-world environments to scale and also gives the user accurate lighting and color information. With a few clicks, Workman demonstrates that the BLK360’s data can help him 3D-model shots, sets, lighting and props. As a result, production teams can save valuable time and avoid costly mistakes before showing up to shoot.

Posted in 3D Modeling, art, Indoor Mapping, Sensors, Software, Technology | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Rice Students Develop Generic Drone Software

Photo by Jeff Fitlow

A team of six Rice University electrical and computer engineering students have developed the hardware and software necessary to coordinate sensor-carrying drones. They have used relatively inexpensive drone components as the platform for demonstrating their software capability.

“The system is designed to be application-agnostic in the sense that you can use our APIs and libraries to build any kind of autonomous solution that you want,” said team member Kevin Lin. “Based on what we’ve seen at the Olympics and other presentational shows, you could totally use our software to build something like that.”

“It’s easy for them to communicate in a peer-to-peer way, but all the underlying complexities of how the communication works are abstracted out to the programmer,” Lin said. “We provide really nice APIs to make it fairly painless for a client to get them to talk to each other.”

One of the most interesting experiments involved LIDAR, which uses a pulsed laser to locate surrounding objects. “We mounted a spinning LIDAR on one of the drones,” Brooks said. “That gives us a planar cross section of the environment.” Raising and lowering the drone – and thus, the horizontal plane – allowed them to capture slices of the immediate environment and build a 3-D map. During testing in the university’s engineering quad, a LIDAR-equipped drone detected and mapped walls, arches and even trees.

“The application-agnostic nature of it makes it really easy to staple on whatever sensor you like and write some really simple mission code,” he said. “Nobody sees the next Hurricane Harvey coming more than a few weeks out. It’s important to have the barrier entry for constructing something like this be really low.”


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A New Common Language for Feature Extraction – OpenLSEF

A fresh initiative to develop a common language for extracting information from a 3D point cloud is being referred to as OpenLSEF. The ASPRS is hosting a free webinar to explain this effort on April 27, 2018 at 12 PM EDT.

The people involved with this believe that while many tools are being created to extract features from 3D point clouds, there is currently no agreed upon standards for how these 3D features are to be defined. This greatly limits the ability to transfer information between applications and utilize it in subsequent analyses. It can be frustrating to be a drafter (or an Artificial Intelligence engine) trying to learn what curbs (or kerbs) look like if no one can agree, for instance, whether flow line or back-of-curb is the defining feature.

This ASPRS GeoByte webinar will present a new common language, OpenLSEF, that describes how features in 3D point clouds should be categorized. By establishing definitions and terminology, products from providers can be standardized; designers can expect consistency; self-driving cars can share high-definition maps and software tool-makers can focus on ensuring extraction algorithms return expected results.

OpenLSEF is a user-created initiative focusing on standardizing extraction definitions in the AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) field, as well as power transmission, utilities and BIM (building information management). These are intended to be living standards relating to the meaning of extracted data, as opposed to simply focusing on actual file format standards. As such, OpenLSEF is data-format agnostic and is meaningful whether you deal in DWG, DGN or SHP files.

The webinar will also include information regarding how to become involved in the OpenLSEF Working groups.

You can register here. It would be great if we could get some of the software developers to support this.


Michael Olsen is an Associate Professor of Geomatics in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University.

Kevin Konynenbelt is the CEO of Solv3D, an innovation leader in 3D point cloud processing (3DPointLogic) and visualization (SiteVisit360).

Robert Radovanovic is the Manager of New Technology Ventures at McElhanney Geomatics Engineering Ltd.

Posted in 3D Modeling, Data, Open Source, Orgs, Software, Standards, The Industry | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tethered Drone Wins $1 Million Prize

Are you looking for a new business idea for the drone industry? There’s a list at the bottom of this post that should get your creative juices flowing, but first we need to highlight the contest winner.

Fotokite, a Switzerland-based company that developed a kite-like, tethered drone that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, won the $1 million grand prize in the GENIUS NY (a year-long business accelerator) business competition Monday. This is my kind of contest.

Fotokite’s drones can fly a few hundred feet in the air attached to a retractable cord, then fly fully autonomously and beam live video to operators on the ground. Most drones can fly for less than 30 minutes on battery power, but Fotokite says its drones can fly 24/7 when connected through the tether to a power source.

Company CEO Christopher McCall said the company is focusing its sales efforts on fire departments and law enforcement agencies, but also sees a market among broadcasters and sports teams. Tethered drones can provide impressive situational awareness.

“It flies all by itself, without the need for an operator, without the need for GPS,” he said.

Fotokite was one of six finalists in Genius NY, a state-funded competition for start-up companies focused on the growing unmanned aerial systems industry.

The contest is administered by the Syracuse Technology Garden and CenterState CEO. It is based at the Tech Garden, a business incubator run by CenterState on Harrison Street in Syracuse.

Here are another five finalists who received smaller, but still impressive cash prizes:

Quantifly, of Detroit, Mich., received $600,000. It uses advanced image processing technology to analyze and quantify traffic and parking studies.

TruWeather, of Virginia, received $400,000. It is building a service to improve the accuracy and communication of weather intelligence.

Dropcopter, of Corning, Calif., received $250,000. It has developed technology that allows farmers to pollinate orchards using drones.

Precision Vision, of Edgewood, N.M., received $250,000. It creates image processing technology that makes real-time precision imaging affordable.

UsPLM, of Syracuse, received $250,000. It develops integrated, scalable drone fleet management software for unmanned aerial systems operations.

That is a powerful way to generate interest in a technology.


Posted in Business Development, Mapping, UAS, UAVs | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drone Training

I don’t usually find a company that I can blog about on ABC’s Shark Tank, but DARTdrones is one I think you might want to make note of.

DARTdrones is the national leader in drone training, consultation, and expert support for new drone pilots. Their mission is to provide the highest quality training on Unmanned Aerial Systems to ensure the safe integration of drones into the national airspace.

DARTdrones believes that drones are going to change the world, and they want to help the FAA implement this amazing technology by promoting safety, comprehensive understanding of the equipment, and knowledge of the current regulations. They pride themselves on friendly, knowledgeable, and expert flight instructors who offer a variety of experience in the aviation industry. They are an exciting team based in Scranton, PA offering training courses throughout the United States.

DARTdrones offers courses in-person and online in over 30 cities throughout the U.S. They offer courses that prepare you for the Airman Knowledge Test. You must pass this exam to operate a drone commercially. There are also courses in aerial photography, insurance and legal issues. They also offer custom designed programs for training at your site.

Looks very professional.



Posted in 3D Modeling, Agriculture, airborne LiDAR, Business Development, cultural heritage, Education, Government, Mapping, remote sensing, training, UAS, UAVs | Tagged , | 1 Comment

New Zealand Lidar Project

The Gisborne District Council in New Zealand will receive over $1 million in funding to acquire LIDAR across the entire district. The Council believes this project will bring major economic and infrastructure benefits for the entire region.

The funding will come from the Ministry for Primary Industries and Land Information New Zealand. I realize that New Zealand is a relatively small country, but shouldn’t we have agencies like this?

Once completed, the LiDAR data will be free for the public and commercial businesses to use in a range of areas, including infrastructure design, urban planning and flood plan mapping.

Council’s environment and science manager Lois Easton says it will provide the quality spatial information needed to make informed choices about land development options.

“This is a key element in unlocking land productivity. It will also be invaluable to the forestry industry who often fly localized LIDAR to help with harvest planting.

The data will assist in road design and planning, as well as management of erosion and flooding in rivers in the district.

“LIDAR will also enable us to better map and therefore manage natural hazards such as tsunami and storm surge areas of impact. It will enable accurate mapping of earthquake faults, landslides and earthflows and other areas of instability,” Ms Easton says.

Other areas that will benefit from the data is riverbed and gravel management and the identification and preservation of unmapped archaeological sites.

It is likely the LIDAR flying will take place in early summer.

Council’s principal scientist Murry Cave and land information manager Mark Cockburn are leading the project.

Posted in 3D Modeling, Agriculture, airborne LiDAR, Business Development, cultural heritage, Data, Environmental, Forestry, Government, Historic Preservation, Mapping, remote sensing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment