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Google Maps Street View 2.0 [LiDAR]

Brian Ussery is reporting that Google is back in Atlanta, GA making Street View images for Google Maps but, this time they brought in the big guns. Beu Blog reported on April 28, 2010, “The cars here today are equipped with GPS, high resolution panoramic cameras and multiple SICK sensors. These sensors collect LiDAR data that can be used for 3D imaging and visualizations like that seen in Radiohead’s recent “House of Cards” music video. Google Earth and SketchUp, Google’s 3D virtual building maker for Maps also use this type of data.

Last week Google announced the release of a plugin which allows users access to Google Earth imagery via Maps. As a result it’s now possible to view 3d images in Google Maps. The problem here is fairly obvious, Google Earth’s aerial imagery is taken from above and as a result not from the same perspective as users interacting with the data. Not to worry though, the StreetView team has been working on these kinds of problems for some time. When it comes to Navigation, Maps or StreetView, earthbound LiDAR enhanced imagery processed via Sketchup seems like a perfect complement to Google’s existing view from above. Combining high resolution imagery taken from the user’s perspective with advanced 3D image technology, presents some new possibilities to say the least. Factor in new releases like business ads in Maps, now being available in 3D on your mobile device and it’s pretty clear how Sketchup will be monetized.”

It is expected that Google’s incorporation of LiDAR into their mapping efforts will lead to some significant changes to our industry. If you have not previously seen the “House of Cards” video, be sure to check out the interactive music video code to see how Google made the point cloud data readily available for manipulation in a standard web browser. Point clouds are finally becoming more natively accepted in most CAD platforms and with Google getting involved in the industry, who knows where we will be in the near future.

European LiDAR Mapping Forum

Title: European LiDAR Mapping Forum
Location: The Hague Netherlands
Link out: Click here
Description: The European event for airborne, bathymetric and terrestrial LiDAR, with a particular focus on mobile mapping systems.

A major, two day technical conference focusing on the use of LiDAR to support transport, urban modelling, coastal zone mapping, asset management and GIS applications.

Alongside there is an associated international exhibition for system and component manufacturers, operators and service companies.

Building on 10 years of experience with the annual International LiDAR Mapping Forum (ILMF) in the USA, the organizers are bringing this unique event to Europe. With its focus on LiDAR technology and applications, ELMF10 recognizes the technology advances spearheaded in Europe, and the particular challenges and opportunities which face operators in applying LiDAR to new developments in the European market.

The ELMF10 theme is “LiDAR Across The Market Spectrum”, and the conference programme will feature technical presentations by the industry leaders and opinion formers.

Start Date: 2010-11-30
End Date: 2010-12-01

Tiltan TLiD Transform LiDAR Point Clouds to 3D Models in One Keystroke

From Tiltan’s website: TLiD is Tiltan’s innovative solution for fast, automated creation of 3D maps and GIS information from LiDAR point clouds.

TLiD Main Features:

– Automatic extraction of DTM (bare earth) and DSM
– Automatic features extraction (houses, trees, power lines)
– Automatic full scene 3D reconstruction
– LAS or free ASCII txt input
– LAS, SHP, DTM and other output file formats
– Multiple input/output coordinate systems
– Integrated with a 3D Viewer

TLiD Advantages:

– Fast parallel processing for cost reduction
– No limitation on input file size
– Standalone product
– Special Applications
– Trees counting – height and size
– Power line mapping and clearance
– Line of sight
– Other applications – available on request

Exploring Point-Based Rendering in Pixar’s RenderMan [Point Clouds]

Creating animations of large point cloud datasets generated from terrestrial laser scanners and LiDAR has been an issue for a number of years. While it has been possible using tools such as Leica Geosystems Cyclone or Pointools, just to name a couple, it is still a very cumbersome task. It is exciting to see the CGI industry beginning to adopt the use of this data and developing applications that make it easier to visualize.

Over the last few years, a brand new technology has emerged for creating CGI effects that has already made a big impact on feature film production. It is called point-based rendering, and this powerful technique makes creating global illumination effects for feature film far more practical and efficient than before. In fact, this year the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences awarded the creators of this innovation, Per Christensen, Michael Bunnell and Christophe Hery, with a Scientific and Engineering Academy award.

In this great article written by Nils O Sandys at CGSociety, we will look into the development of this important new technology, how point-based rendering works, and what this all means to the future of feature film production as we know it. Read the full article here.

National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping Comes to Houston [LiDAR]

April 12, 2010 – Houston – Increasing its cadre of laser mapping researchers, the University of Houston will expand its pioneering work in such areas as homeland security, disaster recovery, oil and gas exploration, wind farm site planning and environmental studies.

The NSF National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping (NCALM) and the groundbreaking researcher leading it recently moved operations to the University of Houston.  Based upon historical information, revenues generated by the center’s operation are anticipated to be $1 million per year and will be reinvested in the program.

NCALM is UH’s first and only NSF-supported center, established and sustained by funding from the National Science Foundation.  This differs from the way the university typically sets up centers, using university funds or grants from multiple sources for multiple projects.  These types of centers support NSF’s focus on interdisciplinary research, spanning several institutions and departments.

Ramesh Shrestha, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, brought NCALM to UH from the University of Florida.  He has been director of the center, focused on ground-based scanning laser technology and airborne laser swath mapping research, since it was established in 2003.  Shrestha brought much of his Florida team with him to Houston, where they now operate NCALM jointly with the University of California-Berkley.

“With the center, we have brought laser mapping’s uses to the forefront and expect to continue to have this impact in our new Houston home,” Shrestha said.  “We plan to establish curriculum catered to this specialty and eventually add a graduate degree in geosensing systems engineering.  This is in addition to carrying out research far surpassing what is capable in laser mapping to date.”

Shrestha’s work with laser mapping goes back to the 1990s, when this once niche research area was just making its debut.  Bill Carter, now a research professor at UH, worked with him early on and helped establish NCALM.

“Together, we saw its potential to far exceed what was possible with many traditional methods, such as airborne photogrammetric mapping that uses cameras to detail terrain,” Carter said.  “Laser mapping has the ability to work day or night, as well as generally map areas even though they were covered by forests and other vegetation where photogrammetric methods couldn’t.”

It wasn’t long before other scientists would see its same benefits, especially as the two developed techniques to remove and minimize some of the errors seen in the early years.  Their equipment became fine-tuned to collect even more data, now mapping as many as 167,000 points per second compared to the 3,000 they were able to achieve when they first started.

Their work has changed the way the state of Florida monitors erosion on its coastline, produced the highest resolution 3-D images in existence of the San Andreas Fault and taken them across the globe to map Mayan Ruins in Belize and volcanoes in Hawaii.  While the impact of their work is already far reaching, their plan for the coming years indicates they are not close to completion.  The value of this work is evident in evaluating the before and after of hurricanes and earthquakes in terms of improving building design and other mitigation efforts, as well as offering predictive tools for subsequent powerful events.

Aided by NSF, future NCALM efforts explore the possibility of using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) to map everything from glacial movements to the migration of penguin colonies in Antarctica.  Using LiDAR, researchers take measurements of the ground’s surface from their Cessna 337 Skymaster airplane.

From roughly 2,000 feet, this remote technology measures properties of scattered light through the use of laser pulses.  Thousands of small cone-shaped pulses travel through a hole in the bottom of the plane to the ground below, and a unique detector picks up rays reflected from the ground.  Then, each point’s distance is determined by measuring the time delay between the transmission of a pulse and the detection of reflected signals.  The plane’s location and movement in the air are tracked by an inertial measurement unit fixed inside the laser system with a GPS receiver mounted to the plane and others on the ground.  Both are used, along with the laser data, to produce detailed 3-D topographical images of the terrain.

“In coming years, our group plans to develop a next-generation LiDAR system.  The unit would be less expensive than commercially available systems and allow for some of the most accurate, highest-resolution observations possible in laser mapping,” Shretha said.  “We want to develop a system like no one else has developed.  It would really change what could be done with this technology.  It would have new features, be faster, smaller and capture more during each flight than we can today.”

According to Shrestha, this system would use a much shorter pulse-length laser, increasing the number of points that could be mapped per second to 800,000.  This would add to data accuracy and reduce the amount of time needed in the air to collect the information.  Additionally, it would be able, for the first time, to penetrate shallow water depths.

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NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: High-resolution photos of Ramesh Shretha and the Cessna 337 Skymaster airplane are available to media by contacting Lisa Merkl.

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities.  UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 37,000 students.

About the Cullen College of Engineering
The Cullen College of Engineering at UH has played a vitally important role in educating engineers in Texas.  Taught by innovative faculty, eight of whom are in the National Academy of Engineering, the college offers degree programs in biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, environmental, industrial, mechanical and petroleum engineering, as well as specialty programs in materials, aerospace, and computer and systems engineering.

For more information about UH, visit the university’s Newsroom at http://www.uh.edu/news-events/.

To receive UH science news via e-mail, visit http://www.uh.edu/news-events/mailing-lists/sciencelistserv.php.

For additional news alerts about UH, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Welcome to SCANable, The Ultimate Resource for 3D Laser Scanning and LiDAR

SCANable is an organization committed to providing valuable information and resources related to the 3D Laser Scanning, LiDAR and Mobile Scanning industries in order to increase the awareness of the benefits and capabilities of these technologies. We strive to provide the necessary tools and support to further enhance the state of these industries including on-line laser scanner equipment rental through our Preferred Provider program (Leica, Z+F, FARO, Riegl, Trimble and Topcon).

We are working with our partners across the nation to provide price consolidation and standardization of laser scanning equipment rentals with a commitment to provide the highest quality products and absolute excellence in service. Our goal is to build lasting customer relationships and ultimately, to be the most valuable resource for the entire industry.

SCANable provides:

– The Latest News Related to 3D Laser Scanning, LiDAR and Mobile Scanning
– On-line Equipment Rental Reservations – Nationwide (Leica Geosystems, FARO, Z+F and more)
Hardware and Software Reviews
– Classified Ads
– Industry Job Openings
– Upcoming Industry Events
– Service Provider Business Directory
Zebra Imaging Hologram Processing

Our organization will prove to be a valuable resource. However, your input and contributions will help to further enhance the awareness of our industry. If you are interested in increasing the exposure of your company, please fill out the Business Directory form.

If you are interested in contributing articles relative to this site, please register for a free account here. Upon approval, you will have access to this site. If you don’t have time to commit to writing articles for this site, you can also send news tips or article ideas to info@scanable.org.

IBM Visualizes a “Smarter Planet” using 3D Laser Scanning Technology [LiDAR]

HOUSTON, TX March 18, 2010 Coign Asset Metrics & Technologies (CoignAMT), at the direction of Zoo Film Productions of Hollywood, CA, has helped produce IBM’s first globally released television commercial created entirely from Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) 3D point cloud data.

CoignAMT used the HDS6100 phase-based laser scanner from Leica Geosystems to create scenes of cars on a freeway, patients in a hospital, electricity grids and much more. The 30-second LiDAR-based commercial is a key part of IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative to portray that data is all around; and that by changing the way the world thinks, companies can maximize the use of data to lower their costs and reduce environmental impact.

Travis Reinke, business sector manager for CoignAMT, says, “Coincidentally, IBM’s perspective is a core part of CoignAMT’s business practice. We help our clients see the long-term value of the data they currently have by using the latest technology, such as 3D laser scanning, to quickly gather an immense amount of data to support their existing “intelligent” systems.”

The Zoo Film Productions crew spent a week in Houston, TX with CoignAMT personnel capturing laser scan data of transmission lines and over 16 blocks of downtown Houston streetscape and surounding buildings. CoignAMT then merged the point cloud data gathered in downtown with 6 square miles of low-altitude helicopter-based LiDAR provided by Aerotec LLC out of Birmingham, AL. Zoo Film Productions crews also created numerous scenes of hospital activities as well as automobiles with and without drivers that CoignAMT scanned individually for use in the commercial.

Reinke continues, “We were honored to be part of this innovative project given the direct correlation between the services CoignAMT provides and IBM’s Smarter Planet initiatives. Using the latest laser scanning technology to visually portray the importance of the data surrounding us was an unforeseen irony. I would never have imagined that we would be using this technology to scan people and cars, objects that are often considered ‘noise’ on a typical inventory project.”

View IBM “Data Anthem” at 848×480: http://www.glossyinc.com/zoo/ibmdataanthem.html
Full credits and a selection of stills: http://www.glossyinc.com/ibmdacred.html
Follow CoignAMT on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CoignAMT
Follow Travis Reinke on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/HDLS

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cj6VtYpBI4

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About Coign Asset Metrics & Technologies LLC:
Coign Asset Metrics & Technologies, LLC (CoignAMT) is a HUBZone qualified, SBA certified, small business that provides a full range of asset management life cycle services and specialized technologies, including high definition laser scanning (HDLS). Its mission is to strengthen public and private sector organizations by aligning their assets and operational practices with their strategic initiatives. CoignAMT is headquartered in the Pittsburgh, PA area, with regional offices located in Colorado Springs, CO, and Houston, TX. Clients include federal, state, and local governments, as well as private sector customers in the construction, energy, transportation, manufacturing, and security industries.

3D mapping drone fires lasers from a mile away (video)

by Vladislav Savov @ Engadget posted Nov 18th 2009 at 6:40AM

The MIT Technology Review has unearthed a new laser-based 3D mapping robot that can produce results similar to those obtained from $100,000 systems at about a fifth of the cost. Funded by the US Army, researchers at the Stevens Institute of Technology have now demonstrated the Remotely Operated and Autonomous Mapping System (ROAMS, for short), which employs a mirror-based LIDAR system that bounces a laser off a rapidly rotating mirror and gleans environmental information from how long it takes for each pulse to bounce back. An array of video cameras and IR proximity sensors add to this recon bot‘s sentience, though you’ll still need to be within a mile’s range to operate it. So not quite yet ready for solo missions to Mars, but plenty useful for gathering data on our own planet. You’ll find video and imagery of the results this machine kicks out after the break.

Autodesk Releases Subscription Advantage Packs with Ambercore Point Cloud Technology

Ottawa, Canada, Wednesday, October 28, 2009 – Ambercore is pleased to announce its point cloud technology has been incorporated into the release of AutoCAD® Civil 3D® 2010 and AutoCAD® Map 3D 2010, part of Autodesk’s Subscription Advantage Packs. These releases are the first products from Autodesk that incorporate Ambercore’s technology which provides valuable new functionality for importing and visualizing large point cloud data sets.

Point clouds are extremely large data sets with millions of points, and are typically created through the use of laser scanning, high-definition surveying, or LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). They provide accurate representations of existing conditions of terrain surfaces, roadways, bridges, and the interior or exterior of features of buildings.

Some common uses of LiDAR data in AutoCAD® Civil 3D® and AutoCAD® Map 3D include using the point cloud data to create DEMs and contour data, digitizing as-built features for design projects, visualizing power lines and surrounding vegetation for right-of-way management, and developing an understanding of the site context in site surveys.

The Ambercore point cloud technology within the AutoCAD® Civil 3D® 2010 and AutoCAD® Map 3D 2010 products enables customers to read, store, index, and quickly retrieve the extremely large point cloud data sets associated with laser scanning and LiDAR. As a result, customers are able to visualize and analyze data in 3D and better build high-precision 3D models.

“The point cloud technology from Ambercore allows Autodesk AEC customers to easily incorporate extremely large and highly accurate LiDAR data into their infrastructure design and management processes,” said Charlie Crocker, Infrastructure Product Line Manager, Autodesk AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction) solutions. “The incorporation of this technology into AutoCAD Civil 3D and AutoCAD Map 3D software means that our customers will be able to better plan, design, and manage infrastructure projects.”

“We are very excited about the first release of our technology within Autodesk’s AutoCAD® Civil 3D® and Map 3D products,” said Ted Reeler, Director, Projects & Technology at Ambercore. “We are confident that this new functionality for point clouds will be a significant asset to their customers, and we look forward to our ongoing collaboration with Autodesk.”

About Ambercore
Ambercore is the 4D Company. We make innovative mobile LiDAR technology, we provide LiDAR data collection services, and integrate and extract knowledge from 4D data. Ambercore’s 4D-iQ provides enterprise-scale software and service solutions for Energy, Mining and natural resource sectors. With its powerful spatial modeling and simulation software, 4D-iQ helps clients make important business decisions by collecting, integrating and analyzing spatial information in 2D, 3D and in 4D (over time).

TITAN® is a revolutionary technology that produces high accuracy survey and mapping products for corridor and infrastructure projects across a number of vertical markets. Travelling at highway speeds – or on rail or vessel – the system uses state-of-the-art LiDAR, imaging and positioning technology to provide feature rich 3-dimensional data, from which intelligent information is extracted and delivered to clients. TITAN® has been deployed on projects throughout the world since 2003.

Ambercore’s Terrapoint Division has provided LiDAR and other digital mapping services for a diverse clientele in over forty countries for the past twenty years. Terrapoint’s primary focus is to find solutions that fit client needs, and to continue a reputation for meeting and exceeding client demands in the delivery of digital elevation and image data. Service and product offerings include complete airborne LiDAR, and digital imaging for engineering, survey and mapping applications. Terrapoint is considered a leader in aerial LiDAR services, and owns one of the largest fleets of sensors in the world. Best of breed solutions comprised of software, hardware and services have been deployed internationally with tier-one clients. Ambercore is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada with offices in Houston, Calgary, South Africa and Europe.

Baker Purchases Optech Lynx Mobile LiDAR Mapping Solution

PITTSBURGH – August 12, 2009

Michael Baker Jr., Inc. (Baker), an engineering unit of Michael Baker Corporation (NYSE Amex: BKR), has announced that it has purchased the Optech Lynx Mobile LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system which expands Baker’s offerings of advanced geospatial technology solutions within its engineering business related to surveying and mapping services.

LiDAR is an optical technology that measures the properties of scattered light to determine range, elevations and other critical mapping data. The system will be used by Baker for engineering and asset management of bridges, transportation surfaces, levees and water control structures, buildings and other infrastructure. Baker’s purchase of the Optech system provides efficient and cost-effective delivery of surveying and mapping data in engineering quality detail. Additionally, Baker will collect survey-grade LiDAR and image data from a vehicle moving at highway speeds using the Optech solution.

Baker’s Bob Hanson, senior vice president, geospatial technologies, said, “This important purchase provides Baker with the most technologically advanced mapping and data collection system that creates value for our customers and helps to keep Baker at the forefront of technology in our core business lines.”

Michael Baker Corporation (http://www.mbakercorp.com) provides engineering and operations and maintenance services for its clients’ most complex challenges worldwide. The firm’s primary business areas are aviation, defense, environmental, facilities, geospatial, homeland security, municipal & civil, pipelines & utilities, transportation, water, and oil & gas. With more than 4,500 employees in over 50 offices across the United States and internationally, Baker is focused on creating value by delivering innovative and sustainable solutions for infrastructure and the environment.

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Contact:
David Higie

E-mail:
dhigie@mbakercorp.com

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