It’s All About 3D

Whether it is Augmented/Virtual Reality  or driverless vehicles the underlying technology is the ability to navigate a digital 3D world at high speed. Reports from last week’s Consumer Electronics Show have these technologies capturing the top spots in terms of interest and potential impact on the mass market.

On a related note the CEO of Waymo announced that they have reduced the price of a lidar sensor to $7,500 from $75,000. Waymo is the spin-off from Alphabet (Google) that is focused on driverless cars. I wonder how this  will be affected by the solid state lidar chip announcements that are being positioned at less than $50.

This is going to be an interesting rest of the decade.

Posted in 3D Modeling, Augmented reality, Autonomous vehicles, Consumer, virtual reality | Leave a comment

Promoting Engineering Careers with 3D Laser Scanning

Transport Scotland is funding the development of promotional engineering learning aids using the Forth Bridges as the subject to the tune of £425,000.The funding will be used to develop games, apps and interactive models all aimed at developing pupils’ STEM skills. That is an impressive investment in the future.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: “The Forth Bridges represent Scotland’s industrial past, creative present and our dynamic and innovative future.

“They are the pinnacle of world-leading design and engineering and it’s right that we conserve and protect them and also seek to inspire and educate the young engineers of the future.

“If the bridges are a globally unique showcase of Scotland’s world-class engineering skills, this amazing 3D scanning project also showcases the world-leading design, research and innovation in our Higher Education institutions.”


Posted in 3D Modeling, cultural heritage, Government, Historic Preservation, Technology | Leave a comment

Self-driving Cars Face a Major Problem – Snow

Since 2009 Google has logged more than 2 million self-driving miles with their test vehicles. In fact, last week they spun this project out to a new business. Waymo is the new company, but it still faces the same major hurdle – inclement weather. Most of the test miles have been logged in locations where snow and cold were not a factor.

Last January, Ford successfully tested one of its self-driving cars in the snow for the first time.

“It’s one thing for a car to drive itself in perfect weather, it’s quite another to do so when the car’s sensors can’t see the road because it’s covered in snow,” Jim McBride, Ford technical leader for autonomous vehicles, said at the time.

The test occurred at one of their private facilities, not a public highway. It’s not just about the total number of miles it is now important to characterize the conditions under which the tests were conducted.

There is still a long way to go before we have a fully self-driving vehicle that can operate under all conditions.

Posted in Autonomous vehicles, Research | 1 Comment

Change Detection Without Registration

A group of researchers from China and the Netherlands have demonstrated the ability to use baselines instead of point cloud registration which they claim is more accurate.

Instead of registering the clouds to a common coordinate system the researchers recommend that baselines be established and used to detect differences between the point clouds.

From the abstract, “Baselines connect feature points within one scan. To analyze changes, baselines connecting corresponding points in two scans are compared. As feature points either targets or virtual points corresponding to some reconstructable feature in the scene are used. The new method is implemented on two scans sampling a masonry laboratory building before and after seismic testing, that resulted in damages in the order of several centimeters.”

This method was then compared to traditional change detection methods.


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USIBD LOA Certification Course Will Be Online in 2017

The USIBD’s Level of Accuracy Certification training course will be offered online in 2017. They are partnering with, who will be hosting this version of the training course covering Version 2.0 of the document.

The training will provide an overview of the document, and show how it will close the gap in your clients’ expectations by increasing communication, ensuring the right use of available or chosen technology and get the right results more easily, accurately and efficiently.

The dates for the training in 2017 are:

January 27th

February 14th

March 24th and

April 28th

The time of the workshops is noted on the registration page by time zone.

Registration to take the course is at:

Posted in Certifications, Education, Standards, The Industry, training | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Lidar Training

This website, hosted by the U.S. Forest Service Remote Sensing Applications Center is offering six online Lidar technology training tutorials. They have also identified a number of online resources.

It appears to be open to the public at no charge. Here are the topics:

•Lidar Introduction Tutorial
•Lidar Fusion Tutorial
•Forest Inventory Modeling
•Advanced Lidar Processing
•Introduction to LIDAR modeling with R
•Lidar Hydro Tutorial

Posted in airborne LiDAR, Education, Hydrographic LiDAR, Mapping, training | Tagged | Leave a comment

Smart Speed Bumps

Add this to the list of everyday consumer lidar applications that may be just around the corner. It’s a smart speed bump developed by Nokian, a Finnish tire manufacturer that includes a laser scanner which measures your tire tread depth and reports it to you via a text message.

Here’s how it works:

“Currently one of Nokian’s speed bump-style SnapSkan units has been fitted at an undercar car park in Helsinki. Others are set to follow in similarly high traffic areas. As drivers (not just Nokian customers) pass over them, the SnapSkan units automatically measure tire tread, while a camera will record the car license plate. If the driver then requests information via a free text message, Nokian sends out a report — plus a quote for new tires from a nearby dealership if required.”

I can see these being placed at toll booths to improve vehicle safety.

Can you think of a consumer app where laser scanning can be utilized? It is going to be as big as GPS.

Posted in Consumer | Leave a comment

Cornerstone Report Released

The USIBD has just released their latest Cornerstone Report on the state of the Building Documentation industry.


This issue takes a look at some of the broader aspects of Building Documentation such as; what are the most common tools used to perform Building Documentation, at what stage of a project is Building Documentation likely to be performed and what are the most challenging aspects of performing Building Documentation?

The cost of Building Documentation always seems to be at the top of the list of reasons why projects go without proper building documentation. However, you may be surprised to find that the results of our survey point to a couple of other items beating it out.

A big thank you to all of those individuals who volunteered their time to make this happen.

Posted in 3D Modeling, Business Development, Certifications, Education, The Industry | Leave a comment

Assessing Fire-Damaged Concrete

Engineering research at The University of Nottingham, UK and Ningbo, China (UNNC) has found laser scanning is a new and viable structural safety technique to detect the damaging effects of fire on concrete.

It takes temperatures in excess of 300 C in order for the structural integrity of concrete to be affected.

One of the researchers commented,”A comparative analysis of the laser intensity for heated and unheated concrete showed that the recorded intensity values for heated concrete are higher than those of unheated concrete. In fact, the laser intensity values of heated concrete showed a remarkable increase in the concrete exposure temperatures from 250°C to 1,000°C.”

He continued, “Such a correlation between the intensity and the exposure temperature is of cardinal importance in assessing the condition and extent of damage to concrete. This finding implies it could be possible to use laser intensity to detect the state of concrete whether it has been heated or not.”

Click here for more info.

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Photogrammetry and Laser Scanning Webinar

bentleyLaser scanning or photogrammetry?  On most projects the answer is often both. When a high level of detail is not required, taking photos is typically much faster and more cost effective, but when you need greater accuracy, the laser scanner is often going to be the right tool for the collection of 3D data. The challenge occurs when you need more geographic coverage than there is time to scan, or there is a need to share the data with a larger group of distributed stakeholders than point clouds readily allows, or there is more precision required than traditional photogrammetric reconstruction alone can offer.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a software environment that could manage both while at the same time reducing the issues surrounding file sizes?

Well now there is. By combining laser scanning and photogrammetry, Bentley Systems’ ContextCapture provides a new hybrid 3D data processing environment that enables you to input any combination of photos and terrestrial laser scanned data (soon to support aerial laser scanning).  The technique allows you to produce high accuracy reality meshes which are ideal for downstream use in virtually any engineering analysis and/or design workflow since they are much easier to manage in terms of file sizes and storage and because they are more visually interpretable.

To explain all of this Bentley Systems is offering an important webinar on December 15 at 1 PM EST where you will learn how this breakthrough innovation allows you to leverage the best available imagery in order to produce highly precise models and cost-effectively capture much larger areas to provide both breadth and depth of 3D contextual models of the real world.

Posted in 3D Modeling, airborne LiDAR, Education, Software | Tagged , | Leave a comment