There is no question that 2018 has seen advancements in many of the 3D laser scanning application areas, including the red hot drone and autonomous vehicle sectors, but as an industry are we taking full advantage of the transformation from 2D to 3D?
Two items come to mind in trying to answer the question of where is the 3D laser scanning industry.
The first is the conversation I had a few months back with a veteran principal at a 1400+ person consulting engineering firm and a senior VP at one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the U.S. When I asked them about the idea of creating and more importantly, funding the creation of a digital twin for newly constructed or renovated projects they both agreed there was very little, if any interest in doing this.
Having just returned from the Bentley Systems Year in Infrastructure conference where the concept of creating digital twins was the number one topic on the five day agenda, the disconnect between these two scenarios was disappointing, to say the least.
The second item comes from the work that I have been involved with over the past three months involving the use of 3D laser scanning to measure tolerances of concrete construction, in particular floor slabs. It’s a long story, but the short version is 3D laser scanning is being used to automate a 1D process, without first asking how do we take full advantage of this rich source of 3D data.
Back in the 1980’s when GIS was first being introduced into government agencies the concept of “paving over old cow paths” was used to describe the automation of manual workflows that could have been greatly improved, or streamlined if someone had first taken the time to think about how the new technology could be fully optimized.
In the organizational change world companies found that to get the most out of the introduction of a new technology it required the use of techniques that became known as “Business Process Re-engineering.”
We need to remember – scanners are dumb. To make up for their inability to collect only the data that we really need, they take the shotgun approach. It works, particularly for airborne lidar mapping where the more points on the ground the better, but it is painful for TLS and certainly not an optimal solution.
We can do better and the adoption of standards is one of the ways we need to improve.
Please let me know what you think. More to follow…
In the meantime, one automotive lidar company that is using a more intelligent data collection and processing strategy is AEye. Their tag line gives a clue, “Think Like a Robot, Perceive Like a Human.”
The 3D Laser Scanning Industry
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