Points & Pixels

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Sanborn Maps Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks
High-Resolution LiDAR Data Help Ensure Effective Road Repairs

The Sanborn Map Company, Inc. (Sanborn) has completed mobile LiDAR data collection for two corridors in Glacier National Park and one corridor in Yellowstone National Park totaling approximately 40 linear miles.

Sanborn was selected for the project to provide data that could be used to determine the level of effort and cost to resurface the roads, which are in dire need of repair. In Yellowstone alone, about 185 miles of main roads are in a structurally deficient state, with poor quality road bases failing under the weight, speed and volume of modern traffic, for which they were not designed. Harsh winter weather and short construction seasons in both parks provide additional challenges.

During the 2015 fall season, Sanborn acquired the LiDAR point clouds, which were particularly dense with 300-500 points per square meter, along with accompanying georeferenced imagery. The firm’s postacquisition approach involved auto-filtering the point clouds in the ground and non-ground classes. The points in the ground class were used to derive road centerlines and edges of pavement, and the non-ground points were used to derive guardrails in vector format.

"This project was particularly rewarding because both of these parks truly are national treasures," notes Arjan Mooij, Sanborn program manager. "There’s no doubt that the quality data we provided will help streamline the process for their much-needed road repairs."

Sanborn is a mobile-mapping technology pioneer, with solid experience dating back to 2001. The firm’s advanced mobile mapping system combines LiDAR with high-resolution video to meet the accuracy required for modern engineering-grade applications and solutions. With a system delivering better than 5-centimeter accuracy and image resolution as fine as 1 centimeter, Sanborn’s mobile mapping products and services provide unprecedented 3-D detail, while offering the efficiency of data capture at vehicle speeds of up to 60 mph.

Sanborn (www.sanborn.com) is a preeminent leader in the exploding geospatial industry, delivering stateof-the-art mapping, visualization and 3-D solutions to customers worldwide. The firm currently operates a fleet of 14 aircraft located strategically across the United States. Embracing cutting-edge technology, Sanborn specializes in oblique aerial imagery, aerial and mobile light detection and ranging (LiDAR) mapping, aerial orthophotography, 3-D modeling and visualization software and services, indoor mapping with its proprietary SPIN robot, unmanned aircraft system (UAS) sales, services and image processing, and a host of geospatial software development.

Combining Data from Multiple Platforms Provides Accurate Deliverables
Maser Consulting’s Static Laser Scanning department was tasked with scanning and modeling an electrical substation located in the US Northeast. The field scanning portion of this job required set-ups at eight individual locations. Photography was collected at each set-up so a point cloud with RGB values and color Leica Tru-Views could be created. The client was also provided with a deliverable that included a model in AutoDesk Civil3D format.

The cleaned and unified point cloud consisted of 128.2 million points, contained within a roughly 10 GB database. Leica Cyclone was used to model all the substation components, and ClearEdge 3D’s EdgeWise was used to model all of the steelwork. In our experience, we have found that utilizing multiple software applications and taking advantage of many programs’ individual strengths enables us to create a comprehensive model deliverable while providing an affordable price. We’ve used similar strategies with Autodesk Revit and Cyclone in the past to produce other forms of modeling. Above all, laser scanning provides us with a method of obtaining accurate 3D object spatial data from challenging and potentially hazardous environments from a safe, remote distance.

The final model consists of over 13,000 individual Cyclone primitives and EdgeWise Steel objects. The individual Cyclone primitives are used as subunits, combined in such a way to accurately represent the components found on this site. Everything, from the insulators to the largest substation components can be modeled to provide a visually relevant, fully measurable, and geo-referenced model that can be used for object placement conflicts, inventory and emergency management.

Maser Consulting P.A. is a privately owned, multi-discipline engineering and consulting firm with a unique balance of public and private sector experience. Headquartered in Red Bank, NJ the firm employs over 500 professionals in 18 offices nationwide. The firm’s experienced survey professionals provide a complete array of services from conventional land measurement to geospatial survey including 3D hi-definition laser scanning, mobile LiDAR and Amberg System Technology for rail and tunnel measurement services.

Using UAVs on a Solar Farm
If you owned a solar farm, how would you carry out the inspection of your 100,000 solar panels? You could employ a team of engineers to inspect each solar panel individually and work on the ground to report back any faults. You could implement an algorithm to make you aware of the possibility of underperformance. Whatever you do, you have to do something to ensure output is maximized while minimizing cost.

Team UAV recently completed a projected that used the very latest in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technology; inspecting 100,000 solar panels and identifying them by individual serial number can now be done in a matter of hours rather than weeks. Using a combination of electro-optical/infrared and multispectral sensors allowed just a 2 man UAV crew to paint a full situational awareness picture to the client, providing 3D densified point cloud models to within 50mm accuracy and generating 380 megapixel orthomosaic images. All of this data was delivered on top of a reliable inspection of all solar panels on site, which saved our client more than 50,000 in traditional manual inspection fees.

Our Unmanned Aerial Vehicles allowed for an immediate increase in productivity, making real world, cost effective savings that added intrinsic value to the solar farms development. In the growing solar industry, failure-free operation of solar panels is a pre-requisite for efficient power generation and a high return on investment. To ensure a failure-free operation, we provide a fast, simple and reliable method to evaluate a solar panel’s performance. Our multispectral equipped UAVs are used to inspect solar panels during normal operation, sensing failure in real time. With a pre-determined autonomous flight plan, we ensure the exact same flight is flown each time the survey is carried out, week in-week out.

Using our sensors and advanced, bespoke algorithms, we’re able to identify the shape and location of hot spots which are then used as fault indicators. For example, an entire module being warmer than expected might indicate interconnection problems. The cause of individual cells showing up as hot spots can usually be attributed to defective bypass diodes or a cell mismatch. Our UAVs allow large areas to be inspected within an extremely short time frame, meaning a solar farm’s output effectiveness can be evaluated on site in less than a day. As well as regular `checkups’, our UAV’s can be used as quality control in the installation phase or for setting out during the construction phase. Using bespoke cloud monitoring and analytics, we’re able to provide our clients with unprecedented access to invaluable data at any time or place, and our cloud analytics service gives them all the vital statistics they need in real time to make informed decisions. You can print, share and download everything you require in a matter of seconds. With all this information at your fingertips, the site can not only be brought to 100% efficiency in record breaking time, but it can be kept at this level week in, week out.

For more info visit: www.teamuav.uk

Imagery Assists Disaster Response in South Carolina
On October 4th, 2015, a "thousand-year" rain event hit South Carolina, spurring widespread flooding throughout much of the state.

In an effort to address the immediate needs of those affected by the disaster and to document the event for future study, Woolpert collected perishable aerial imagery as the waters crested.

The national engineering and geospatial firm then shared the data generated by that imagery with multiple state agencies and local governments, including and the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD), the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), the South Carolina Army National Guard (SCARNG), Fort Jackson, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), Richland and Lexington counties, and the city of Columbia.

"Tuesday, Oct. 6, two days after the largest rainfall event ever recorded in the midlands of South Carolina, Woolpert conducted an aerial imagery flight of the hardest hit area," said Maj. Bryan B. Tolar of SCARNG. "The resulting imagery was uploaded to a website created and hosted by Woolpert at its Dayton, Ohio, headquarters the next day."

Tolar said the website helped local governments respond to road and dam failures, assisted in briefing ranking officials on the situation and provided valuable information to the general public via the SCEMD website.

Dr. Patrick Bresnahan, geospatial information officer for Richland County, said the imagery provided by Woolpert was valuable immediately.

"I am so thankful for getting that call from (Woolpert) and for what was provided," Bresnahan said. "Having lived through a natural disaster, I learned it was the corporate citizens who were there first. Woolpert, Google–there was no paperwork, and (they) were there. It was a huge resource to have it immediately, instead of dragging this thing out."

Woolpert has offices in Columbia, Mt. Pleasant and Greenville, S.C. "Because of their S.C. roots and their understanding of the situation, Woolpert provided this service and product on their own initiative and at their own expense," Tolar said. "Woolpert decided to conduct the flight, delineated the flight area with input from SCEMD, flew the area, flew back to Dayton, Ohio, downloaded and processed the data, designed and built the website, and went live in a span of 36 hours."

Project Director Brian Bates, who managed Woolpert’s effort in Columbia, said the company felt the need to provide assistance where it could.

"South Carolina has been good to Woolpert for the past 20 years, and this was our opportunity to give something back," Bates said. "We had the ability to do it, and we had the resources. If we had a chainsaw and that was needed to help our neighbor, we’d use a chainsaw. We had an airplane, so we used an airplane."

Bresnahan said the technology employed via the cloud, which housed the imagery away from impacted areas, and the mobile app were key to the use of the imagery.

"The Woolpert app worked and was very much needed since everybody’s out in the field," he said. "Having that imagery tool, before and after the event, has been great. It has been used every day and continues to be a key part of our recovery efforts."

A 3.237Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE