Surveyors and 3D Imaging

  1. During the tough times is when new technology should be investigated.
  2. The hybrid, robotic total station, digital camera, and low resolution scanner all-in-one at one third the cost of a high resolution scanner is ideal for the small land surveying firm.
  3. To really understand the benefits of a new technology you have to be a player.

I think I mentioned that I have been developing an Intro to Laser Scanning training course. A friend of mine at the Univ. of New Hampshire, who has been the head of a 2 year surveying program going on 30 years and I were discussing the need for the typical land surveyor to get involved with laser scanning. Of course the economy is not helping – the land surveying profession is on tough times. However, now may be the best time to get involved with the technology while there is time to investigate, learn and make a deal.

One type of instrument that seems to me to be especially interesting for the small land surveying firm is a hybrid of a total station and a scanner. In this category Topcon has the IS (Imaging Station) and Trimble has the VX Spatial Station. Both include robotic data capture, long range reflectorless distance measurement, digital photography and low resolution (15 to 20 points per second) scanning at a price that is much more affordable than a high resolution, single purpose scanner.

One of the really cool features of these hybrids is the ability of the operator to accurately point the scanner and then scan just the area of interest. As I have said in the past scanners are dumb. Including the optics of a total station makes them more intelligent. This also significantly reduces the amount of extra data being collected and insures that what you see is what you get.

To me the most important benefit of one of these hybrids is that it gets you in the 3D imaging game. The only way someone is going to really figure out how to create value for customers with a new technology is to start doing it. The cost of a hybrid is approximately one third the cost of a scanner, and I am sure there are even better deals out there right now.

Surveyors – let’s not miss the 3D imaging revolution.

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