Driverless Trucks This Year

It sounds like long haul trucking is taking the lead in demonstrating the ability to operate autonomously at high speed over long distances. Reports from yet another start-up – tuSimple has plans to commercialize their technology in both the U.S. and China this year. They have opted for radar instead of lidar as it can operate better in inclement weather and at longer distances, they claim.

The tuSimple systems will be installed in Peterbilt trucks that will run at autonomous Level 4 of High Automation, defined as a vehicle system capable of conducting all driving without human control except in special circumstance, such as a traffic jam. A driver will be behind the wheel for the test runs in Arizona this summer.

Their goal is to be generating commercial revenues this year.


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How Accurate is Your Drone? Real World Results

By Mike Tully, ASI

Aerial Services and the Iowa Department of Transportation completed a UAS project in 2017 that tested the positional accuracy of several Unmanned Aerial Systems (camera and lidar). In this highly informative article Mike Tully presents a summary of this work. A more detailed report will be forthcoming.

This is a must read.


Posted in 3D Modeling, airborne LiDAR, Education, Mapping, Sensors, UAS, UAVs | Leave a comment

Lidar Flight Planner

Phoenix Lidar Systems recently announced the release of their Phoenix Flight Planner that can be used to optimize your LiDAR mission parameters before you fly.

The beta software allows to calculate your flight plan, review estimated LiDAR data quality, and upload a terrain-following KMZ directly to your UAV.

You can also explore the effects that different parameters have on your data before you fly, estimate your data quality and reduce costs by experimenting with various flight paths, altitudes, and other variables using the Phoenix Flight Planner.

The Flight Planner allows you to:

Calculate your flight plan based on your area of interest (AOI).
Estimate your LiDAR swath and point density based on terrain, speed, and more.
Anticipate MTA zones that may affect data quality, especially in uneven terrain.
Upload a terrain-following KMZ directly to your UAV.

There are plans to release a flight planner for photogrammetry missions as well.

Have a look at this informative video.

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Big Data and Lidar

The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is developing new solutions for the responsible and sustainable use of the resources of agriculture, forestry and fishery, as part of an international consortium. The main goal is to use Big Data particularly in the raw material production for the bioeconomy industry to produce food, energy and biomaterials. In forestry, MHG Systems is leading pilots that develop services enabled by forest data.

The Data-Driven Bioeconomy project (DataBio), co-funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 program, deals with massive flows of information collected through sensors placed in the soil and air, as well as from aerial and satellite imagery. The aim is to improve the decision-making of farmers, foresters and fishermen.

The 26 agriculture, forestry and fishery pilots of the project are developing common software tools for analyzing and refining information flows. The pilot results and new solutions are also expected to create new business opportunities and increase the use of Big Data technologies in the primary production for the bioeconomy industry.

Satellite images are used to identify forest damages and prepare felling plans. Growing trees can be mapped even more precisely using airborne laser scanning. These methods can be used to automatically identify tree species, amounts and health, which means that forest owners can better plan their operations.

Posted in 3D Modeling, airborne LiDAR, Data, Environmental, Forestry | Leave a comment

Free Airborne Lidar Data Webinar

Join the New York State GIS Association for a webinar titled ‘What’s the Point in LiDAR’ presented by David McKittrick of Blue Marble Geographics. This webinar is FREE and open to all, regardless of membership in the Association.

Date: Tuesday January 16, 2018 — Time: 12pm – 1pm EST

Register here


Not so long ago, LiDAR data was considered a luxury commodity. Collection and processing were expensive and coverage was limited to specifically targeted project areas. Fast forward to today and LiDAR is ubiquitous and readily available to the masses. Unfortunately this availability is expanding at a rate that is out-pacing the requisite knowledge and skills needed to effectively utilize the data. In this presentation we address this conundrum by first considering the basic structure of LiDAR before embarking on a series of workflows in Global Mapper that illustrate several applications for LIDAR data. We will begin by considering a number of options for editing, filtering, and generally improving the quality of the data. We will then walk through the procedure for transforming the point cloud into an accurate Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and for creating vector contour lines. Finally we will explore several terrain analysis procedures derived from this surface model including volume calculation, cut-and-fill analysis, and change detection.

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Scanning the Titanic

OceanGate Inc., a provider of manned submersible services and 2G Robotics, a global leader in underwater laser scanners, have formed a strategic alliance to capture laser data of the RMS Titanic shipwreck and debris field. 2G Robotics dynamic underwater laser scanner, the ULS-500 PRO, will be installed on OceanGate’s Cyclops 2, the first manned submersible to survey the Titanic since 2005.

The six-week Titanic Survey Expedition will depart from St. John’s, Newfoundland in June with scientists, content experts, and mission specialists joining the crew in a series of week-long missions. The innovative 2G Robotics equipment will generate real-time 3D models with millimetric resolution. Using the highly accurate laser data, the team will overlay 4K images captured throughout the expedition to create a detailed 3D virtual model of the wreck. This model will serve as an objective baseline to assess the decay of the wreck over time and help to document and preserve its submerged history.

“Laser scanning provides maximum detail in less time than other techniques,” notes Stockton Rush, OceanGate CEO. “2G Robotics has provided us with a solution that will generate an entirely new perspective of the Titanic.”

Cyclops 2 will be outfitted with 2G Robotics’ ULS-500 Pro. This dynamic underwater laser scanner is significantly quicker and delivers fine-scale dimensional features not captured by other methods. The scanner will document the present-day condition of the historic site without any need for physical interaction.

From the press release.

Posted in 3D Modeling, Autonomous vehicles, cultural heritage, Historic Preservation, Sensors | Leave a comment

USIBD Best Practices Webinar

Join Us January 17th at 1 PM ET to Hear Case Studies that Demonstrate the Unique Challenges and Best Practices for High-Precision 3D Laser Scanning & Modeling Projects

Pharmaceutical and medical research labs share several unique characteristics that can present major challenges to engineering firms tasked with modeling existing conditions. From the sterile environment to the exacting chemical process workflows to the fiercely demanding owner/operators, medical research and pharma manufacturing facilities can become high-risk projects if not properly planned and executed.

This webinar will help you identify the areas of risk that are unique to these complex projects and how you can instill a series of best practices to ensure your as-built model is accurate, on time, and on budget.
Specifically, you will learn about:

How BIM Connection was able to scan and model the as-built conditions at a lab expansion despite existing MEP that looked more like jumbled spaghetti than rationally laid pipe and conduit.
Why the O/O fired three engineering firms on a pharma manufacturing project and what Advanced 3D Laser Solutions did differently to deliver the project to spec.
The best practices you need to employ on complex medical research and pharma manufacturing projects to ensure success.


Kelly Cone, VP of Product Management for ClearEdge3D will host this event
Lewis Boxer, Technical Director at Advanced 3D Laser Solutions
Herb Yamamoto, CEO at BIM Connection

Please join us on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, at 1 PM EST as we present two important and revealing case studies in the pharma and medical research industries.

You can register here.

Posted in 3D Modeling, BIM, Education, training | Leave a comment

TRB and CES 2018

Two of the more important industry events are taking place this week. The Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting kicks off in Washington, DC and the Consumer Electronics Show will draw well over 100,000 to Las Vegas.

What do these seemingly diverse events share in the form of disruptive technology? Autonomous vehicles that rely on lidar to support their navigation. Its incredible to see how far this technology has come and the pace at which it is accelerating.

As evidence of the interest in autonomous vehicles take a look at this cheat sheet for locating companies at CES. There are over 400 companies.No one could have predicted how important lidar technology would become.

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Inside the Vehicle Lidar

This partnership has the potential to solve a number of the issues with lidar sensors and inclement weather. One of the leading suppliers of automotive windshields, AGC Automotive has combined forces with yet another lidar start-up, Dibotics to offer the first inside the vehicle product.

According to the press release the key is the development of a special integrated infrared transparent glass developed by AGC.

As partners, AGC Automotive and Dibotics share the same vision of autonomous vehicles: both are device agnostic and can work with every type of LiDAR sensor. Both companies strongly believe that LiDAR will be the key enabler for autonomous vehicles, combined with other sensors to provide maximum safety to drivers. They are both also fully convinced that design will remain a main topic and a powerful trigger for autonomous vehicles adoption.

The Dibotics founders have a background in SLAM. They are offering a suite of intellectual property, algorithms and engineering services to achieve mobile autonomy, advanced 3D perception and situation awareness.

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Velodyne Slashes Price of Puck

The investment in automation at Velodyne’s Megafactory is beginning to produce results. Yesterday they announced up to a 50 percent reduction in the cost of the VLP – 16 Puck, their most popular sensor, to $4,000.

“Demand for our VLP-16s grew tremendously in 2017. As a result, we increased capacity and now can pass along savings as cost reduction to our customers,” said David Hall, Founder and CEO, Velodyne LiDAR. “We want to make 2018 a year of optimism for the autonomous vehicle, especially as the first waves of robocabs hit the road. Our goal is the democratization of transportation safety by making it accessible to every man, woman, and child in the world as quickly as possible.”

As noted by Hall, the Megafactory has established a business case for US-based production, because even as automation has increased, so has hiring as the company invests heavily in automation and the skilled support staff that it requires.



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