Sources of Free Lidar Data

This detailed article in Geospatial World by Anusuya Datta provides an extensive listing and description of a variety of free lidar data sources from around the world, as well as this informative introductory video.

The USGS 3DEP program is the leader in this effort to democratize lidar data here in the U.S. Along the coast NOAA’s Digital Coast covers over 550,000 sq. miles with contributions from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Geodetic Survey.

A group that I have not heard of is the United States Interagency Elevation Inventory which is collaboration of the USGS and NOAA. They provide an inventory of high-accuracy topographic and bathymetric data for the U.S.

There are a number of other resources including sources in the UK, Netherlands, Finland and Spain.


Posted in airborne LiDAR, Data, Government, Hydrographic LiDAR, Mapping, Open Source, remote sensing, Research | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SPAR 3D 2018 and AEC Next Open Tomorrow

The center of 3D innovation for the Built Environment will be at the Anaheim Convention Center the next three days June 5-7 as SPAR 3D 2018 and AEC Next combine for the first time.

The highly anticipated conference program, organized by conference planners and an Advisory Board comprised of 15 industry experts, kicks off on at 9:45 AM on June 5th with 16 product previews followed by the SPAR 3D opening and keynotes including Alexander Menzies of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Dave Truch of BP, and Baptiste Tripard of Intel.

Day keynotes include Ken Sanders, of Gensler, and Jack Dahlgren of NVIDIA. Day 3 features a keynote panel of Darren Bechtel of Brick & Mortar Ventures, Ira Samm of Bechtel and Angie Ackroyd of Shell TechWorks followed by another keynote address by Atul Khanzode of DPR Construction.

The full program consists of more than 60 sessions is made up of keynote presentations, plenaries, 101-tracks, and panels providing industry professionals with an overview of 3D technologies, insight into the newest innovations and a view of what’s coming next.

71 exhibitors, including 15 exhibitors new to SPAR 3D this year, occupying 10,400 square feet, will showcase the latest 3D technology during the two-day exhibition. An additional 61 AEC Next exhibitors, occupying 7,500 square feet, will also be present on the expo floor to showcase architecture, engineering, and construction solutions. The exhibit hall will be open to attendees from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Wednesday and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Thursday.

In addition to an abundance of exhibitors, the exhibit hall will also feature a variety of live demonstrations. Live demonstrations have always been a cornerstone of SPAR 3D Expo & Conference, but this year will introduce a few firsts including 23 presentations in the SPAR 3D Demo Theater, a Station IX Immersive Theater with a 360-degree display, and Topcon’s Immersive Dome Experience.

Also available for attendees to test out will be Euclideon’s Hologram Table. Various Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR & VR) demonstrations, as well as mobile mapping demonstrations, will be available throughout the exhibit hall.

Click here for more information.

Posted in 3D Modeling, artificial intelligence, Augmented reality, Autonomous vehicles, BIM, Business Development, Conferences, Construction, Forensics, Hardware, Indoor Mapping, Mapping, Mobile LiDAR, Research, Robots, Sensors, SLAM, Software, Technology, The Industry, UAS, UAVs | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Hexagon Acquires AutonomouStuff

In a somewhat surprising move, Hexagon AB announced the acquisition of AutonomouStuff, one of the world’s leading suppliers of integrated autonomous vehicle solutions.

Founded in 2010, US-based AutonomouStuff is pioneering turn-key platforms for autonomous vehicle development, robotics and data intelligence innovation. Its turn-key platforms, which utilize a robust portfolio of technologies, are deployed in pilot programs worldwide – representing more than 2,500 customers in the automotive and technology sectors across Silicon Valley, America, Europe, and Asia.

“The acquisition of AutonomouStuff accelerates Hexagon’s ability to move our customers beyond the data impasse of IoT,” said Ola Rollén, Hexagon President and CEO. “We’re particularly interested in technologies that are the most disruptive – those capable of leveraging the vast potential of data being generated by connected things, integrating AI, Edge-Cloud Orchestration, Mobility, and Data Visualisation into autonomous connected ecosystems.”

“When combined with our positioning intelligence, mapping and sensing technology leadership, this acquisition creates a nexus of domain expertise that will lead the autonomous mobility industry for years to come.”

2017 sales amounted to 45 MUSD. Completion of the transaction (closing) is subject to regulatory approvals, including a voluntary filing to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), and other customary conditions which are expected to be satisfied within the coming 90 days. The transaction purchase price will not be publicly disclosed as it’s insignificant relative to Hexagon’s market capitalisation.

It is going to be interesting to see how this move into the consumer mass market is going to be integrated with the high end professional business model that Hexagon has been pursuing. When I asked Olla Rollen about the consumer market a few years ago he explained that the profit margins were too low. Things change.

For more information, please contact:
Maria Luthström, Investor Relations Manager, Hexagon AB, +46 8 601 26 27,
Kristin Christensen, Chief Marketing Officer, Hexagon AB, +1 404 554 0972,

Posted in 3D Modeling, AI, artifical perception, artificial intelligence, Autonomous vehicles, Business Development, computer vision, Consumer, intelligent cities, Internet of Things, machine learning, Mapping, Research, Robots, Sensors, SLAM | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Industry Engages with NGS to Modernize the National Spatial Reference System

As part of a Webinar Series the NGS is hosting “Industry Engagement to Modernize the National Spatial Reference System on June 7, 2018 at 2:00 pm EDT.” This webinar will review a May 2018, NGS – hosted  workshop with commercial equipment and software representatives to discuss their needs and concerns about modernizing the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS), planned for 2022. Collaboration between NGS and industry is critical because many end-users access and work with the NSRS in commercially available software packages.

The technical content rating for this course is  intermediate with  some prior knowledge of the topic being helpful.

As a reminder, the NGS Webinar Series hosts presentations on various topics related to NGS programs, projects, products and services to educate constituents about NGS activities:

• View our upcoming schedule.
• View recordings of previous webinars.
• Have a question? View our webinar FAQs or email the NGS Info Center (

You can register here for the webinar.

The presenters will be Christine Gallagher, NGS, and Dru Smith, NGS.


Posted in 3D Modeling, Conferences, Data, Education, Geomatics, Government, Hardware, Quality, Research, satellites, Standards, Surveying, Surveying Engineering | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

SPAR 3D Expo and Conference 2018 is Next Week

Well, we are almost there – SPAR 2018 is just a few short days away. It begins with product previews next Tuesday morning, June 5 and runs through Thursday afternoon, June 7 with an expert panel taking a look into the future as they wrap things up.

For the first time SPAR is being co-located with AEC Next. Each conference has its own program, but they will share one exhibition floor which is certain to make things more interesting for all of us. I hope it provides more context and opportunity to see the bigger picture of how 3D really fits into the Built Environment. Lots of opportunity for networking and learning.

The SPAR program features three keynotes on Tuesday afternoon followed by a number multi-track presentations on topics such as transportation, virtual design and construction and automation which includes driverless vehicles. There is a happy hour in the exhibit hall from 5 to 6.

Wednesday features an in-depth keynote followed by a set of multi-track presentations for the rest of the day. There is a major social event Wednesday evening. Thursday follows the same pattern with two keynotes to open the day followed by multi-track presentations.

Click here for the complete program.

It’s going to be more of a challenge then ever to cover it all, but stay tuned as I will be bringing you the highlights. See you in Anaheim!


Posted in 3D Modeling, 3D Printing, artifical perception, artificial intelligence, Augmented reality, BIM, Conferences, Construction, Hardware, Historic Preservation, intelligent cities, Internet of Things, Mapping, Research, Robots, Sensors, SLAM, smart cities, Software, Surveying, Technology, The Industry, virtual reality | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Geospatial Reference Videos

We can’t always assume that the earth is flat for all of our geospatial surveys. The use of GNSS certainly does not assume this to be the case.

So I have been doing some research this week on geodesy and have come across a number of excellent resources that I wanted to make you aware of. I think it was reading the Red Atlas that got me thinking about map projections, coordinate systems and datums.

The first is the home page for the National Geodetic Survey. There is a wealth of geospatial information available here and it is not just for the hard core geodesists. There are links here to pages on OPUS, CORS, state plane coordinates, land surveying, leveling, datums and transformations and much more.

A second landing page is found at MetEd which is a free collection of hundreds of training resources intended for the geoscience community.

There are some 19 videos available on this page including topics on geodetic control, foundations of GNSS, transforming heights between vertical datums, best practices for GNSS, survey feet vs. international survey feet – the list goes on.

If you are feeling like you need a review, or want to learn about some challenging geospatial topics there is a wealth of information at your fingertips on these pages.

For a bit of a historical perspective on geodesy click here.

Posted in 3D Modeling, bathymetric, Education, geodetic, Geomatics, GNSS, Government, Mapping, remote sensing, Research, satellites | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Beyond the Autonomous Vehicle Hype

Raise your hand if you think you will own a fully autonomous SAE Level 5 car within the next 10 years. You did not see my hand go up. Why, for two reasons. The first is there are some very difficult technical problems that are like finding a cure for cancer. You can pour as much money as you like at them and there is no guarantee they will be solved. Second, I don’t think the world is ready for this technology.

In a recent Forbes article written by Saeed Elnaj he provides a number of interesting insights beginning with an analysis of the recent Uber fatal crash. He compares where we are today with driverless cars to the early days of air travel. I don’t actually think that is a fair comparison as we already have a non-autonomous automobile option, unlike when the Wright brothers were inventing the airplane and there was no other choice if you wanted to fly, you had to take some risk. The same idea applies to the introduction of the automobile. There was no choice.

As Saeed points out in 2017 cars with drivers logged 3.22 trillion miles in the U.S. with 37,000 fatalities. When we get closer to level 4 and 5 this is going to be the major argument for why we should be willing to accept the new technology, even if it is not “perfect.”I do believe this a valid argument, but who is going to decide what is an acceptable level of fatalities? I suppose the government, or will it be the consumer?

Let’s say we somehow get the technology to support Level 5, initially under some narrowly defined usage cases. What is the transition going to look like where we have cars with drivers and without on the same highways and roads?

Saeed makes some strong arguments that in four or five years there will be a massive convergence of economic, social and demographic forces that will combine with the new technology to create significant demand for the driverless option. Smart city planners are counting on the idea that transportation is going to become a service. There is no question that today’s children under 10, let’s say, are the target market for the Level 5 autos in the mid-2020’s, once again assuming they can be built.

But what about the rest of the population? When asked today 56% of Americans said they would not ride in a driverless vehicle, let alone buy one. That is a much more powerful economic block than teenagers who will potentially never need a driver’s license.

Saeed concludes that although there are many challenges that he thinks driverless vehicles “might become a dominant mode of transportation sooner than we expect.”

You know where I stand, what do you think?

For the full article click here. 


Posted in 3D Modeling, artifical perception, Autonomous vehicles, Consumer, Government, intelligent cities, Mapping, Research, smart cities | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Memorial Day 2018

Today, here in the U.S. we are observing our most solemn holiday – Memorial Day. A day to remember all those in the military who have served and in many cases made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country and many others from the enemies of freedom.

Memorial Day had its roots in the 1860’s after the Civil War when families of the fallen  soldiers would decorate the graves of the soldiers each year. On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. This became known as Decoration Day, as my parents would often refer to it.

Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.

Thank you to all who have and continue to serve our great country. It seems so small compared to the sacrifice that so many have made.

Posted in cultural heritage, Government, Historic Preservation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Red Atlas

Ever wonder what the Soviet Union was doing about mapping during the Cold War? Well think about what they were doing in sports and by comparison you will start to get an idea of the level of sophistication and investment that they were making in a worldwide mapping effort that began with Stalin during World War II. They were way ahead of Google.

I just started reading, “The Red Atlas – How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World”, by John Davies and Alexander Kent. It’s a fascinating detective story that continues to unfold as the classified maps surface in different countries that were part of the old Soviet Union. Not only were these maps of the highest quality, they were literally works of art.

I remember thinking during the late 1990’s when Land Info, the producer of the USGS 1:24,000 DRG (digital raster graphic) topo maps began offering Russian topo maps that who would be interested in those. Now I know why. The Soviet military mapping program is likely to have produced millions of sheets at a variety of scales. The true extent of the Soviet cartographic enterprise has yet to emerge.

But, this is where the story gets even more interesting. not only did the maps contain the data that we are used to seeing on a USGS topo map, but they contained additional information that could only have been obtained through covert activities. Information such as the name of factories, the type of products they produced, the depth of rivers, their speed of flow, John bridge clearances and much more were notated directly on the maps. The origin of this data is a mystery.

And just to make it a little more interesting the maps that were available to the Russian citizens and tourists were of much poorer quality, at a much smaller scale and contained intentional errors so that they could not be relied on.

For map lovers, it’s fascinating and I have only read 20 pages. For more information click here and enjoy.

Posted in cultural heritage, Data, Government, Historic Preservation, Mapping, remote sensing, satellites, Security | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Topographic Survey Specification for Urban Projects

At 260 pages in length there is no question that a tremendous effort has gone into the development of this Topographic Survey Specification for Urban Projects (2009). It is truly an impressive document that deserves your review to see what can be done if people are interested in the “S word” – standards. Our 3D industry will never achieve the levels of productivity that are possible if we were all working with the same specifications.

From the Executive Summary:

This document contains a detailed topographic survey specification and supporting quality assurance (QA) procedures for 1:250 urban works as implemented by the Quality Bus Network (QBN) Project Office and Dublin City Council. It has been developed over a period of years by a working group including members representing the interests of the city council, private land survey firms, local government, civil engineering consultants, professional survey organisations, and survey software developers. In addition to the specification itself, the document provides a checklist of QA activities to be carried out to ensure that any given survey fully meets the specification in terms of accuracy and content.

The specification has been applied and refined over a number of large projects such that it has been shown to fully meet the demanding requirements of dense urban topographic surveys while being readily achievable by the survey contractor in a cost effective manner. Specifically the specification has been shown to deliver consistent results in terms of high quality cartographic and 3d model output to AutoCAD / MX / Microstation and SCC with well defined relative and absolute accuracies.

Click here for the full document.

Thanks to Shane MacLaughlin, Managing Director at Atlas Computers the Chair of the working group in Ireland that made this happen. This came to me through the OpenLSEF organization that is working on a common language for extracting information from point clouds. This is a perfect example of the benefits of being a member of this organization. Please consider joining this important group.

Posted in 3D Modeling, Data, Government, intelligent cities, Mapping, Mobile LiDAR, Open Source, smart cities, Standards | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment