Members of the NavVis D&E team talk about designing the NavVis VLX, and how it was precisely engineered to perform better in everyday surveying tasks.
From a blog post by Sean Higgins.
When portable indoor mobile mapping devices hit the market around 2015, they promised unprecedented speed and flexibility for building documentation workflows.
But early products faced a variety of technical challenges that limited their usability for day-to-day survey applications, as well as quality of the data that they could produce. This gave the technology a mixed reputation among laser scanning professionals.
Starting in 2017, NavVis began designing a new kind of wearable mobile mapping device. They started from scratch to develop a tool that captures the highest quality data, in the widest variety of applications, with a minimum of effort from the operator. The result is NavVis VLX.
We caught up with members of the Design and Engineering team at NavVis to learn more about the design of this tool, and how it was engineered to better perform in day-to-day survey tasks.
The Right Form Factor
As NavVis industrial designers Sarah Godoj and Nils Christensen explain, the team considered all possible form factors when designing. They saw that portable indoor mobile mapping systems on the market took one of two forms: a backpack or a handheld device. And each option had pros and cons.
A handheld scanner is the most flexible and compact but includes the smallest sensor payload. This usually means lower quality data. A backpack scanner includes more sensors and often produces higher quality data. But these devices tend to be large and heavy, and difficult (or impossible) to navigate into tight spots.
Since both options presented unacceptable tradeoffs for day-to-day scanning tasks, the team developed a novel design that offers the best of both worlds.
NavVis VLX is a compact, wearable system that includes all the sensors necessary to maximize data quality, including two Velodyne VLP-16 lidar sensors, four 20 MP RGB cameras, and professional-grade IMU. The device is also light (weighing in at only 9.3 kg), comfortable, and flexible enough for real fieldwork.
“I would say it’s the world’s first shape like this,” says Christensen.
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