How Flat is Flat?

landI have always been fascinated by the people who pursue the world land speed record. In this case it’s a British group that claims they are building a 1,000 mile per hour vehicle.

At that speed you would like to know that you are on a flat, make that extremely flat surface. Enter mobile lidar via a small survey company in Cape Town, South Africa called Lloyd & Hill.

As reported by the BBC, “The survey theory is simple. Put a very high speed scanning laser on top of a vehicle, drive it up and down the desert until you’ve scanned the whole track, crunch the resulting 3D surface map through a computer, and wait for the results to fall out.

Unfortunately, in the real world, it’s nowhere near that easy.

The team mounted the laser head on top of a vehicle, which then drove up and down the lake bed for a total distance of 300km to map the whole track surface. Of course, the laser is only measuring the distance from the surface to the laser head, which moves as the vehicle moves up and down, and rolls from side to side, on its suspension.

Even if you use a computer to compensate for the suspension movement, that still leaves you with the problem of knowing precisely where the vehicle is (to a vertical accuracy of less than 10 mm) all the time.

The solution is to pre-survey 290 precise reference points, spread over the whole track and accurate to +/-2mm, so that the laser map can be matched precisely to these known elevation points.”

The good news, I think is that they believe it is flat enough to give it a go – not me.

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1 Response to How Flat is Flat?

  1. The shock waves can generate some perturbation, and there must be stabilization to overcome it.

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