Laser Scanning and Machine Control

I have only recently taken the time to better understand the other disruptive 3D technology impacting the AEC world – machine control. On the construction site this is the new productivity booster, but in fact the technology is also being used in mining, landfills and of course precision agriculture.

The basic concept is to supply a computer on board an earthwork machine with the digital terrain model so that the elevation of the blade or bucket can be automatically controlled in 2D or 3D space. The location of the machine is being determined in real time from either a robotic total station or GPS.

In the most recent edition of Machine Control Online managing Editor and Co-Founder Randy Noland did a little gazing into his crystal ball to see what might result from a combination of laser scanning and machine control. Placing a scanner on the cab of a bulldozer or grader could make for an interesting combination of real time data.

What do you think?

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1 Response to Laser Scanning and Machine Control

  1. Neil Other says:

    At the moment, our ability to capture data greatly exceeds our ability to process it.
    You could theoretically generate a model of existing topography from a scanner mounted on the machine, but will this offer a significant benefit over a model generated by logging the position of the blade when in automatic? The latter can be done without adding any hardware.
    Apart from the quite daunting computational challenges of using point clouds to determine blade position in real-time, this concept has one drawback compared to GNSS positioning: It turns the system into a line-of-sight system. The instant something obstructs the line of sight to the static reference, the system becomes inoperable.
    I think scanners will first and foremost find their application in rapidly-deployed, easy-to-use and relatively cheap as-builts on large projects.

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