FAA Announces UAS Rules – Update

Update – Here is a link to the FAA Press Release.

The FAA and Department of Transportation will hold a rare Sunday morning news conference to release the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the use of small unmanned aerial systems in the National Airspace System (NAS). In an even more rare Saturday night statement, the agency outlined what to expect: “The rule is specifically aimed at increasing the routine use of small UAS for business purposes, and does not apply to model aircraft used for recreational purposes. We already have rules in place for that,” the statement said. “The proposed rule includes operational limitations – such as daylight only operations, maintain a visual line of sight with the aircraft at all times and height restrictions.”

The NPRM just starts the process of implementing the rules. Significant rules like this normally come with a 90-day comment period and there are likely to be thousands of comments, every one of which the FAA must take into consideration. It could be months or more likely years before the final rule is enacted.

Thanks to Bill Gutelius who was on vacation for the heads up.

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Lidar – Guided Driverless Pod

In case you are still not buying into the idea of driverless vehicles becoming a reality in the not too distant future you should have a look at this project. It’s closer than you think, thanks in part to the use of lidar to support the navigation.

A new driverless vehicle that should soon be available for the public to use has been unveiled in the UK. The Lutz Pathfinder is an autonomous pod that is designed to drive on pavements and in pedestrianized areas. Once successfully trialed, the pods will transport people around the city of Milton Keynes.

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Spot Takes a Lickin

Spot is a four-legged robot designed for indoor and outdoor operation. It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. Spot has a sensor head that helps it navigate and negotiate rough terrain. Spot weighs about 160 lbs and was developed by Boston Dynamics.

Spot can take a real hit and remain on its feet thanks in part to the Velodyne lidar scanner that you see in this video – truly amazing:

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3D Lifecycle Asset Management

The latest edition of the LiDAR News eNewsletter is now available. There are articles on lifecycle asset management in the cloud, the integration of 3D laser scanning, BIM and GIS, managing a contract labor force and more.

Please let me know if you have an idea for an article and pass us on.


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Bentley Systems Acquires Acute3D

Bentley Systems just announced the acquisition of Acute3D, based in France. Acute3D software automates the generation of high-resolution, fully-3D representations from digital photographs taken with any camera, whether highly specialized or embedded in a smartphone.

Bentley Systems Founder and CTO Keith Bentley said, “The world-class Acute3D developers have already achieved two breakthroughs, which remove the barriers to the adoption of reality modeling. First, Acute3D has made it possible for anyone to sufficiently capture existing conditions with just a camera. Of equal importance is the value of the Acute3D result. Rather than a voluminous cloud of discrete points, Acute3D produces a 3D ‘reality mesh’ – intrinsically in the same geometric idiom as engineering models, readily aligning the real-world context.

Keith is a very smart person and I think he is right on with this perspective.

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Report Card on U.S. NSDI

Well, if you are familiar with the ASCE report card on the state of the U.S. infrastructure in which we received a grade of D+ you will probably not be all that surprised at the results of this report. In this case COGO took a look at the national spatial data infrastructure in the U.S. and the results were not good – mostly C’s and D’s.

It’s incredible to think that a country like this can be as successful as we are while doing such a poor job on these critical issues. One can only imagine what it would be like with real leaders in Washington who were truly interested in the future rather than the next election. If only…

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Riegl User Conference 2015

If you have always wanted an opportunity to visit Hong Kong and mainland China this may be just the reason you have been looking for. Riegl has announced that they will be hosting their international user conference the week of May 5 – 8 in both locations.

Now if your thinking that the flights will be expensive I found a round trip on United for $1,000 – yes that is one thousand USD, should you live here in the states.

It doesn’t snow there does it? I am getting paranoid about that now.

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Apple Street Mapping

According to this article in Fortune Apple is collecting 3D street level data using a custom mobile mapping system that includes a Velodyne scanner and a number of cameras. With that many parked cars it would seem to be a data processing nightmare.

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Project Tango Update

It’s difficult to get the complete picture of Google’s Project Tango, but this video is a good starting place. This effort has the potential to be the consumer platform for 3D applications.

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Documenting an Offshore Oil Platform

Everything is more challenging when it comes to the offshore environment. This detailed article in OE (Offshore Engineer) provides an in-depth look at the benefits of using 3D laser scanning to document the as found conditions of a production platform.

In 2012, Wood Group ODL was tasked with its first whole, colored-platform scan. The platform topsides are about 12,200-tonne, comprising 27 individual modules on seven levels, giving an indication of the scale of the facility. The offshore phase of the survey required 65 days on the platform with two surveyors.

As far as the future goes the author predicts,

“It will not be long before it will be even more cost-effective to undertake whole-platform scans, and use hand-held scanners to provide detailed information on areas of interest, such as corrosion, signs of wear, or tie-points for new or replacement systems.

Using intrinsically safe tablets will enable the onshore and offshore teams to share information almost immediately, and for initial designs to be virtually superimposed over the actual platform structure and equipment to confirm the suitability and practicality of the design.”

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