Preserving the Nations Monuments with 3D Laser Scanning

DJS-3D-Laser-Scanning-Lincoln-MemorialThis is a guest post from Eric Davis at DJS Associates.

Construction companies need accurate measurements and want them fast. Over the past 10 to 20 years, hardware and software engineers have been hard at work developing tools to suit these needs. 3D laser scanning has emerged as a tool and process that meets industry standards. Through a combination of hardware, software, and methodology, 3D laser scanning now allows us to tackle the issues of precision and coverage with relative ease, and at a much quicker pace.

Software manufacturers are also beginning to take notice, with companies like CAD giant Autodesk and others making a conscious effort to accommodate laser scan, or “point cloud” data, in their major software packages. Engineers, architects, and contractors now have the ability to work directly with point cloud data with programs such as AutoCAD, Navisworks, Bentley Microstation, Revit and even Google Sketchup. The ability to work with the data directly inside an application of choice has many benefits, including clash detection analysis, and virtual site management.

Laser scan data proved invaluable when DJS Associates recently partnered with CyArk, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the world’s heritage sites through digital preservation and the National Park Service (NPS), the federal agency administering many parks throughout the country.

As part of this partnership, the the National Park Service selected the Lincoln Memorial to be a starter project in its broader goal of digitally documenting the entire National Mall area. The scan measurements collected will be used for a variety of purposes, among them structural integrity evaluations, site management and maintenance, as well as providing additional value to the existing education programs. Similar to construction projects, the initial measurements will be used as a foundation for important decisions in the future.

The Project:

The project assignment was to use 3D scanners to digitally document the Lincoln Memorial. The deadline to complete the Lincoln Memorial documentation was five business days, working within the typical hours of 7AM-5PM. The project included everything on the exterior of the site, and within the Lincoln Memorial Circle; the roadway that surrounds the monument.

On the interior, the project called for data collection on the upper portions of the Lincoln Statue in the main chamber, as well as detailed documentation of the attic, roof, and basement areas. Like any construction project, the unique features of the Lincoln Memorial presented their own distinct challenges for documentation. The attic, roof, and basement required special consideration. In the attic area, the versatility of the 3D laser scanner, and its comprehensive field of view, allowed for accurate data collection while adhering to OSHA regulations. Specifically, specially trained personnel were able to easily move and operate the laser scanner, while utilizing a ropes and harness system to ensure their safety.

The 3D Laser Scanning:

Because of the limited time allotted for this project (fifty hours), special care was taken when defining the variables for this project, including data density and determining which portions of the site needed to have color information (photographs) included with measurement data. By addressing these issues prior to the implementation of the project, the time on-site was utilized efficiently, and the quality and quantity of data collected was maximized.

As with many construction projects one must utilize the appropriate tool for the appropriate job. In this case, the different areas that required documentation dictated the use of different types of scanners in order to maximize the efficiency of time and quality of the data. In total, four laser scanners were utilized, each controlled by its own operator. Two Leica C10 laser scanners were utilized to complete the exterior documentation, as well as the documentation in the main chamber area of the monument. The reasoning behind using these particular laser scanners is that the time-of-flight technology they employ tends to be well-suited for long-range, low noise data collection. On the roof, attic, and basement levels of the memorial, two Faro Focus 3D scanners were utilized. With their fast phase-based scanning technology, these scanners were perfectly suited at collecting hundreds of scans in the basement area, over a short time period. In addition to this, the small form factor of the Faro Focus 3D scanners made them an ideal choice for the work that took place on the roof and attic levels.

Other critical considerations in the project (and with any project) included defining the extent of the area that needed to be documented, point cloud density, and point representation. Point density, or scan resolution, is important because this value determines the number of measurement points collected during the scanning process. If objects/areas of interest have small, intricate features, higher resolution scans will better describe these areas, but will also take longer to collect. If more general measurements are needed, perhaps lower resolution scans will suffice. Point representation has to do with how the data will be viewed or utilized down the line. If the data is to be used in visualizations, color data (i.e,. photographs) collected with the measurements can add tremendous value, though it will add additional time to both data collection and data processing. If the goal is merely to collect quick measurements for verification or as-builts, color data may not be necessary.

The Lincoln Memorial project is just one small example of the power of 3D laser scanning. In the construction industry, the site is a dynamic, ever-changing, living, breathing location. 3D laser scanning can be utilized at any point in the process, whether for the basic, initial survey at the beginning of the project prior to breaking ground, as well as during the construction process to verify that the intended design is being closely adhered to. Once the final piece is in place, 3D laser scanning is the ideal starting point in generating an accurate, comprehensive BIM model for owners, contractors, and architects.

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Mass Lidar Production

puckAs if they might have read the previous post Velodyne LiDAR today announced that the company is preparing to scale up for high-volume manufacturing of sensors for automotive applications, including self-driving cars.

Velodyne is now poised for mass production of its VLP-16 LiDAR Puck and successor products, according to Mike Jellen, company president. Announced last fall, the VLP-16 is a 16-channel real-time 3D LiDAR sensor that is both substantially smaller and significantly less expensive than previous generation sensors. In a bid to bolster auto safety, Velodyne will also develop and market LiDAR sensors aimed at alerting drivers to potential hazards via 3D visualization, and has released a preliminary design concept.

In recent months, Velodyne has taken a series of actions designed to accelerate the company’s move from a market leading innovator with recognized customers worldwide, to a sophisticated organization known for industry-leading business practices and rigorous business process improvement.

In addition to naming Jellen — a seasoned industrial automation executive with extensive global and domain experience — president and COO, Velodyne recently appointed Pieter Kerstens Vice President of Engineering. Kerstens is a 30-year veteran of high tech engineering and manufacturing management within the U.S., Europe and Asia, for organizations that include TDK, Xicato, IBM, Philips and Hitachi, among others. This summer, the company also appointed a senior executive to oversee its mass production capabilities.

This is going to get interesting.

 

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Camera with Lidar

MDL_toyota_safety_sense_2_en-onlineDataWhile the geomatics industry has been focused on high end laser scanners, with the   exception of Velodyne, although I don’t think they are anwhere near the price point of this new Multi Function Camera from Continental. As I have noted many times this is the same pattern that we saw with GPS.

CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor) cameras are already used for categorizing objects in front of a vehicle. However, by itself, a CMOS camera cannot always provide sufficiently reliable information for initiating automatic emergency braking.

Continental is combining the passive sensor technology with an infrared Lidar in the Multi Function Camera with Lidar. The Lidar sensor transmits three pulsed infrared beams with a 905nm wavelength and measures the time-of-flight until the reflected beams reach the receiving optics.

The sensor monitors a distance of more than ten meters in front of the vehicle, which classifies it as a short-range Lidar system. From the speed of light and the time-of-flight, the Multi Function Camera with Lidar is able to calculate the distance to the object to an accuracy of up to ten centimeters. In conjunction with the CMOS camera, the sensor module now provides a robust means of object categorization and reliability.

With tight cost restrictions in mind, particularly as regards compact vehicles, the Multi Function Camera with Lidar module has been made scalable. Depending on the application, the computing capacity can be adjusted to three different comprehensive levels. In all three variants, the MFL always provides robust and reliable data on which to base the decision to initiate automatic emergency braking – and does so in the smallest space. In addition to Lane Departure Alert (LDA) which is available in Toyota Safety Sense C package, other ADAS functions such as Lane Keeping Support (LKS) and Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR) can be installed as additional optional vehicle equipment with the same sensor module.

As I have noted many times this is the same pattern that we saw with GPS. Don’t look now soccer moms you might get “lidared”.

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Change is in the Air

cropped-uasreno_2015_logo1Time is running out for you to make plans to attend the ASPRS’s UAS Technical Demonstration and Symposium in Reno, NV September 29 and 30. Last year’s inaugural event was a big success and with the program this year including test flights, UAS data processing, and workshops you don’t want to miss this opportunity to learn from the industry leaders.

It looks like the test flights and data processing workshops will begin on September  26 and extend to October 1 so make your plans accordingly. Jonathon Edwards from Skyward will provide the keynote.

I hope to see you there.

 

Posted in 3D Modeling, airborne LiDAR, Conferences, Education, Government, Orgs, UAS, UAVs | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

FAA UAS Crackdown

Trimble_UX5For all those people who are taking the risk of  flying a UAS without the proper FAA approval please note the following:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced on its website that it was stepping up enforcement actions against individuals and organizations that operate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, without proper authorization. According to the FAA website, unauthorized drone operators may be subject to fines of up to $25,000 and up to 20 years in jail. The FAA claims to have levied civil penalties for unauthorized flights, and states that there are a dozen open enforcement cases.

The timing of the FAA’s announcement suggests that it is in response to a rapid increase in reports by pilots that UAS are flying close to manned aircraft. In addition, last month a drone sighting forced firefighters in California to ground aircraft that were intended to help fight wild fires.

The FAA is encouraging the public to report unauthorized drone operations to local law enforcement. Earlier this year, the FAA issued guidance to local law enforcement on applicable laws and policies as well as actions that law enforcement can take in the event of unauthorized drone operations.

In light of the FAA’s announcement, companies that have received a Section 333 Exemption should take proper steps to comply with the applicable conditions and limitations. Businesses that are operating drones for commercial purposes without a Section 333 Exemption may wish to reconsider the risks of being identified by the FAA, the general public, law enforcement and potential competitors that already have received a Section 333 Exemption.

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OGC Point Cloud Working Group Meeting

ogcThe first meeting of the previously announced OGC (Open Geospatial Consortium) Point Cloud domain working group (DWG) will be held during the Fall OGC technical meeting in Nottingham, UK September 14 -18.

The newly formed Point Cloud DWG will have its first official meeting on Tuesday, September 15 @ 15:15.  There will also be remote GoToMeeting information for this soon.

There is a call for presentations in this DWG.  They already have a couple of agenda items as follows:

  • Review the Charter (edits and corrections, additional charter members, etc.)   Stan Tillman, Intergraph
  • Election of chair(s)
  • Serving LiDAR thru existing OGC services

There has been a lot of interest in this group and what it will be doing – some of that interest coming from outside of OGC. It is important for ASTM E57 to be involved with this.

 

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Automated Pavement Data Collection

paveMichael Baker International claims their new mobile pavement data system is the first of its kind. The system combines the Pavemetrics pavement profiling solution with its existing mobile Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) vehicle and Ground-Penetrating Radar systems.

The company can now deploy a fully equipped diagnostic vehicle that provides a turnkey, cost-effective approach to gathering pavement conditions. When mounted high on the vehicle, the Pavemetrics LCMS maps the whole width of the lane and eliminates the effect of vehicle wandering during data collection, ensuring more consistent and repeatable results year to year.

“With the combination of the Pavemetrics solution and mobile LiDAR, we’re collecting precise data and imagery of nearly all the assets along the roadway for a holistic approach to transportation asset management. Using LiDAR can also lead to greater safety on the road for motorists as well as our on-site employees,” said Robert Hanson, senior vice president and the firm’s Geospatial Practice leader.

I would like to see an independent test of this system.

 

Posted in Business Development, Ground penetrating radar, Mapping, Mobile LiDAR | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Lidar Market Poised for High Growth

samAccording to this the report the global lidar market is poised for substantial growth – 15% CAGR. If you think you missed the boat you may want to read this.

U.S.-based market research firm Transparency Market Research (TMR) announces the release of a new market study.

The report is titled ‘LiDAR Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2014 – 2020’.The historical value of the global LiDAR market, taken in the base year 2013, was US$225 million. The market is expected to ride the rising wave of acceptance of LiDAR technology to expand to US$605.5 million by 2020.

Browse the full LiDAR Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2014 – 2020 report at http://www.transparencymarketresearch.com/lidar-market.html.

The prime growth driver for the global LiDAR market, as found by TMR experts, is the supreme sophistication it offers in terms of refinement in mapping.

This is a huge improvement over all conventional and presently used mapping technologies. Like any new technology, the LiDAR market is set for phenomenal growth, having overcome the primary hurdles of gaining the attention of the powers that be.

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Crime Scene Documentation

Associated Press Photo

Associated Press Photo

This article written from the end user perspective clearly explains the benefits of documenting a crime scene with 3D laser scanning.

When it comes time to collect evidence at the scene of a crime, Detective Joe Swenson said sometimes you don’t know what’s important until later.

“But, the scene is gone, cleaned up,” said Swenson, a crime scene detective with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit. “With this, I can go back to the scene anytime I want.”

“This” is a 3-D laser scanner that documents and measures everything within about a 400-foot radius from the scanner. By taking about 25 scans at each scene, Swenson is able to have an interactive picture of the scene at his fingertips.

“While I’m out at the crime scene doing my thing, other investigators are talking to suspects, witnesses or whoever … we have a lot of contact back and forth, but they’re learning things that I don’t know about,” he said. “There can always be things that I just don’t learn until later on.”

Swenson said the piece of equipment makes crime investigations more accurate.

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Tree Map for Minnesota

mnEarthDefine, a provider of high-resolution spatial data products, has created a seamless tree canopy dataset that maps Minnesota’s trees in unprecedented detail. The Minnesota SpatialCover Tree Canopy dataset maps trees with 98% accuracy and 30 times the resolution of existing state level datasets for Minnesota. This 1-meter resolution dataset will enable users to accurately measure and understand tree cover at regional and local levels, especially in mixed urban and agricultural landscapes.

EarthDefine used multiple terabytes of color infrared imagery flown in the summer of 2013 along with three-dimensional point cloud data from LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) available for most of Minnesota to create the seamless tree cover dataset. The LIDAR data was also used to create a Canopy Height Model (CHM) dataset that maps canopy heights across 73 counties in the state.

That is impressive.

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