Scanning the Masses: daVinci Days Geomatics Demonstration

This year, Oregon State University and the Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon (PLSO) collaborated at the daVinci Days festival in Corvallis, Oregon to educate the public regarding geomatics. Graduate students John Raugust, Hamid Mahmoudabadi, and Mahyar Sharifi-Mood joined PLSO at their booth to demonstrate LiDAR concepts to a wide variety of festival attendees.

Viewers had the opportunity to see the scanner in action and navigate the point clouds. Showing subjects their respective point clouds shaded by color or reflectance were very well-received. This was due, in large part, to the ability to discern minute details such as facial expressions, writing and symbols on clothing, and the contrasting colors of surrounding objects. The Geomatics students explained that the final point cloud coordinates include accurately georeferenced X, Y, and Z locations as well as providing red, green, and blue values and intensity for the modest 120,000 points per second gathered!

Onlookers were fascinated by the visualization of the 3D point cloud images, especially the density of points obtained on surrounding objects such as vegetation, vendor tents, fences, and their own bodies. The most typical questions posed were related to prevalent LiDAR applications, associated costs (hardware, software, and maintenance), accuracy levels attainable, and the integration of total station and GPS data into the point clouds. There were several professionals from different scientific fields who posed technical questions regarding methods of alignment, filtering, and merging of LiDAR point clouds.

Some interesting questions from a variety of professionals are stated below:

Helicopter Pilot:

A helicopter pilot raised this question: what do you do if you want to see an area in top view? We explained the navigability of point clouds and the visualization ability in a variety of view types (e.g., top, front, perspectives, sections) as well as the line-of-sight limitations of LiDAR. This conversation then went further into discussing some current applications of airborne laser scanning and its associated equipment. He suggested using a combination of helicopter and terrestrial laser scanning to more completely cover the target area.

Skeptical Surveyor:

An experienced surveyor voiced his skeptical opinion about this emerging technology. He told some of his stories about the mismatching of theodolite and GPS measurements in the 90s. He stressed the need for using quality control validations along with LiDAR technology. The point he brings up is a valid one that the industry is currently grappling with. Having publicly documented QA/QC checks along with the development of standards and guidelines will be a key driver to the success of this emerging technology.

High School Teacher:

A high school teacher asked about the wavelength of our laser scanning unit, leading to a detailed conversation about the physical characteristics of laser beams. We were impressed by her in-depth knowledge of physics, specifically wave properties. She brought up a good point: to be a good physics teacher you must continually grow your field of study.

Mechanical Engineer:

The following question was posed by a mechanical engineer: as a mechanical engineer who designs gears and car parts it is important to create a prototype before designing the final details. Is it possible to do it with your device? To support this need, we spoke of smaller, fine-scale laser scanners, capable of scanning small objects at micron level resolution. We set an appointment to show him a demonstration.

In conclusion, bringing these emerging technologies to these types of public forums is very beneficial, both to the presenters and the crowd. These brief stories show how developers can showcase these new technologies and potential consumers can help tailor them to their needs.

daVinci Days Background

daVinci Days is an annual festival held in Corvallis, Oregon. This festival showcases art, science, technology, government, business, education, local businesses, sustainability, and the Pacific Northwest. This event is a melding of technical expertise, music and art expression, alternative energy and transportation, and local food. Events include a keynote science lecture, astronomy explorations, home-built solar power vehicle races, and home-built bike-wagon races. It is held during the middle of July, a time where new students, and their families, visiting the Oregon State University (OSU) campus can participate in the festivities.

PLSO Background

The main goals for PLSO include uniting land surveying professionals in Oregon, holding forums to tackle tough new issues, upholding the integrity of the land surveying profession in Oregon, maintaining methods of ethical conduct, and promoting educational programs and legislation related to land surveying.

OSU was proud to represent the LiDAR community and looks forward to continued collaboration with organizations in the future to bring awareness to the potentials of LiDAR to the general community.

Thank you daVinci Days!

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