Lidar and GIS

esriEsri has recently published a book entitled, Making Spatial Decisions Using GIS and Lidar. The scenarios in this reference feature lidar as the primary data source and lidar-related analysis as the primary skill focus. Lidar is a powerful, and increasingly popular, data source used to create elevation and terrain models with very high accuracy.

Students and self-learners can use the exercises in this book to develop their GIS skills. Downloadable data and access to a 180-day free trial of ArcGIS are available on the Esri Press “Book Resources” webpage. Instructor resources are available by contacting”

This is the third book in the Making Spatial Decisions series, Making Spatial Decisions Using GIS and Lidar focuses on scenario-based problem solving using an integrated workflow in ArcGIS® for Desktop.

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Autonomous Vehicles on 60 Minutes

google_driverless_carAccording to the report last night on 60 Minutes some 4 million miles of highways in the U.S. will need to be mapped in high detail before the autonomous vehicle industry will be able to  support full operation. That sounds like a lot of mobile mapping to me.

Both Mercedes and Google were interviewed. When the Google engineer was asked about the timing he said he was hoping that by the time his child was ready for a driver’s license, in 4.5 years that they would not need one. I think that is very ambitious, but it sure would make things very interesting.

There was one mention of the use of lasers, but when discussing real time navigation they referred to the use of radar on the Mercedes car. It will be interesting to see what role lidar plays in the final system.


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Update – 3D Scanner for Your Phone

eoraI first covered the Eora 3D, the laser scanner for your smart phone in August. The company is announcing that you can become an early bird backer on Kickstarter for $199.

You can download the free app for both iOS and Android and in a minute you can be scanning things. A typical scan using the Eora takes no more than 5 minutes to capture up to 8 million points.

Other features include the fact that it is cylinder-shaped, and uses a green laser beam managed by a smartphone to photograph an object, capturing multiple images per second, while also tracking the laser. The Eora has a small Bluetooth-controlled turntable, which rotates and scans objects “up to as much as 200 mm of length.” It is apparently great for scanning “clay models and other organic shapes.”

This is the direction that could lead to a smart phone with a scanner.

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diffusereflectiveI came across this valuable explanation of reflectivity on Pulsed Light’s website. They explain that there are three types – A. Diffuse Reflective B. Specular, and C. Retro-reflective.

In the case of purely diffuse surfaces, we are talking about materials that have a textured quality that causes reflected energy to disperse uniformly. This tendency results in a relatively predictable percentage of the dispersed laser energy finding its way back to the LIDAR-Lite receiver. As a result, these materials tend to read very well.

Specular surfaces, on the other hand, are difficult or impossible for the LIDAR-Lite to recognize because radiated energy is not dispersed. Reflections off of specular surfaces tend to reflect with little dispersion which causes the reflected beam to remain small and, if not reflected directly back to the receiver, to miss the receiver altogether. Examples of specular surfaces are mirrors and glass viewed off-axis.

Retro-reflective surfaces return a very high percentage of radiated energy to the receiver due to their reflective properties. Light hitting a retro-reflective surface will return to the receiver without much signal loss so retro-reflective surfaces are typically very good targets for the LIDAR-Lite. Paint used to mark roadways, animals’ eyes, license plates and road signs are examples of retro-reflective surfaces.

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3D Scanning the Brandenburg Gate

brandenburg-gateThe Brandenburg Gate in Berlin was constructed as a symbol of peace in the late 18th century. However, historic events transpired which brought its image and survival into jeopardy. Napoleon once stole the entire Quadriga statue from the top of the Gate as a war trophy. Initially conceived of as Eirene, the Roman goddess of Peace, that statue was reinterpreted as Victoria the goddess of victory upon Napoleon’s eventual demise in 1814 and return of the Quadriga.

Last month a documentation acquisition project was carried out by CyArk and the Institute for Photogrammetry at the University of Stuttgart in southern Germany. With the support of the institute’s director, Prof. Dieter Fritsch, two of his cultural heritage researchers and Chance M. Coughenour came on-site with the necessary equipment to complete an integrated terrestrial laser scanning and photogrammetry campaign.

In three short days, while large tourist groups passed around us with puzzled looks, we completed our documentation. Following the processing of the collected data, we will produce a high resolution 3D model of this important monument and present it at the upcoming CyArk Annual Summit in Berlin in late October.

I did visit the gate along with Checkpoint Charlie.


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Hyperspectral on a UAS

airborne_hubspotThis is going to be short as I have to leave for the airport, but one of the more impressive presentations today at the overall outstanding UAS Reno 2015 conference was from Tom Breen at Headwall Photonics. If you have a need to identify objects or materials by their spectral signature using a UAS then you should be talking to them.

It’s far from trivial, but they are getting valuable results from their systems integration involving UAS and hyperspectral sensors.

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Day 2 UAS Reno

uasrenoAs many of you know these regional, highly focused conferences are proving to be some of the most cost effective and valuable of the year. UAS Reno 2015 is no exception. Tuesday’s schedule included a number of single track presentations in the morning followed by an afternoon in the field where we were shown at least 10 UAS flights. It was interesting that all were roto copters – no fixed wings.

A report from Unmanned Systems Canada indicated that they know they are ahead of the U.S. and they want to keep it that way.

Today’s events will also be single track with a number of short focused presentations followed by a Lidar sidebar.

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Day 1 at UAS Reno 2015

uasrenoThe first three days of test flights and  a workshop that was attended by over 100 people are in the books at UAS Reno 2015. Today begins with a keynote by Jonathan Evans from followed by a series of rapid fire presentations.

The afternoon is the hot ticket -3.5 hours of flight demos featuring Western Turf and Hardscapes. Moving the nearly 500 attendees will be a challenge, but that is why we are here.

Wednesday features a second keynote and full day of sessions plus the Lidar sidebar after the conference ends.

Stay tuned. This is the cutting edge of this technology.


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Earth Imaging Satellite Constellations

blackstone3Planet Labs is another group that claims they have the largest constellation of earth imaging satellites. With 87 toaster size, low earth orbit satellites in circling the earth as we speak it is an amazing story and a glimpse into the future of mapping.

They call them doves and since they are so small they can hitch a ride on almost any space vehicle. You have to read this story.

Thanks to Brent Gelhar for the lead.

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UAS Mapping 2015 Reno

uasrenoThe next event on the crowded UAS/UAV event calendar is the ASPRS UAS Mapping 2015 which begins Monday in Reno, NV. This technical demonstration and symposium builds on the success of last year’s inaugural event which I did not attend so I am really looking forward to hearing from a number of experts.

It opens Monday with a hands on workshop that includes live test flights plus the use of software and data.

I am going to participate in what is being called a “Lidar Sidebar” which is scheduled for Wednesday at the end of the event. Data formats will be a key topic.

#uasreno @uasreno

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