Points & Pixels

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Coastal Zone Mapping and Imaging Lidar
Teledyne Optech’s Coastal Zone Mapping and Imaging Lidar system (CZMIL) is an integrated lidar-imagery sensor. Along with its complementary HydroFusion software suite, it is designed for the highly automated generation of physical and environmental information products for mapping the coastal zone. CZMIL is intended to survey over a wide range of water types, ranging from moderately clear to predominantly turbid.

The lidar is a hybrid scanned-flash system employing a 10-kHz laser and circular scanner. Its segmented detector enables simultaneous recording of high-density topo/bathy data (70 kHz from a single laser). CZMIL’s high-power laser has a short pulse width to address the combination of energy and pulse characteristics required for surveying in shallow, turbid water. These design factors produce high-resolution maps in shallow water without compromising detection in deeper waters.

Through a cooperative pilot project with the Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetric Technical Center of Expertise (JALBTCX) and Dewberry, a CZMIL system was used to collect lidar data for the Kings Bay/Three Sisters Springs system in Citrus County, Florida during the Spring of 2015 (Figure 1). This pilot project was conducted for Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) to determine the efficiency of using topo-bathy lidar to map a small cluster of coastal springs.

The Kings Bay Springs (a.k.a. Crystal River Springs) group is the second largest springs system in Florida, and is composed of numerous springs distributed over a large area. The largest springs are the Black, Tarpon Hole, Idiots Delight, and Hunter Springs. Material, both organic and inorganic, tends to accumulate in the underwater Karst terrain.

The Kings Bay area, surveyed on May 22, 2015, consisted of five flight lines surveyed at 400 meters, and covered a total area of approximately 3.5 km. The surveyed region was approximately 25% water and 75% land. Due to low bottom reflectance, HydroFusion’s, Turbid Water Module (TWM) was applied during the processing of the dataset, allowing for a greater coverage of the full range of depths and water conditions in the survey area.

The digital elevation model (DEM) generated by CZMIL (Figure 2) was compared with more conventional hydrographic survey conducted with single-beam sonar and polesoundings. In Figure 3 we show the elevation profile of Hunters Spring. The success of the project should lead to the mapping of the Three Sisters spring system in its entirety.

Data courtesy: JALBTCX
Image courtesy: Dewberry
Springs area description were provided by SWFWMD. We would also like to thank SWFWMD for providing the opportunity for the utilization of the CZMIL system for this pilot study. For more information, please visit: www. teledyneoptech.com

NCTech Unveils New 360 Degree Imaging Developments for iSTAR Camera
Company announces new measurement capabilities and colorization integration for FARO laser scanners
NCTech, the developer of reality imaging systems, announced two new developments for its industrial-grade iSTAR panoramic camera. The company demonstrated these developments at the SPAR 3D conference and tradeshow in Houston, Texas.

Designed for rapid 360 degree imaging, iSTAR is a panoramic camera that precisely captures full spherical immersive images and high resolution panoramic data streams for fast, efficient visual documentation of an environment. The new developments are as follows:

Measurement Module
NCTech has developed a new software development kit (SDK) for measurement. This enables iSTAR users to take measurements from directly within a spherical image by combining a `stereo pair’ of iSTAR images. NCTech is providing the SDK free of charge to enable third-parties to build the measurement capability into their own software.

With an accuracy of approximately 0.1 1% (i.e. 1-10mm across a 1m length), the measurement capability is intended for applications in architecture, surveying, construction and forensics. Key benefits to these markets include iSTAR’s high speed of capture and the ability to rapidly cover large areas on-site and take measurements later.

"In situations that do not require the accuracy of a laser scanner, being able to quickly capture reasonably accurate point-to-point measurements from within an iSTAR panoramic image is a very useful capability," said Neil Tocher, CTO, NCTech. "We have developed this SDK in response to customer enquiries who have indicated that a faster way to generate measurements would be of interest."

Arithmetica, the company behind the SphereVision suite of software, is one of the first to integrate the iSTAR SDK for measurement.

"By supporting the iSTAR we are now able to offer users of SphereVision Project Suite the ability to capture accurate measurements from 360 degree images captured in stereo pair mode with the iSTAR camera," said Mark Senior, Business Development Manager at Arithmetica. "This is in addition to the existing functionality that allows them to integrate maps, plans and layouts and enhance with links to other rich media such as video and audio to build an interactive view."

FARO scan colorization integration
NCTech’s ColourCloud software has been integrated to allow direct import of raw image data from iSTAR to colorize scans captured by FARO laser scanners, all within the FARO SCENE software environment.

"We are committed to making colorization of laser scans as easy as possible, and the best way to do that is to ensure that users can do everything from within their familiar software environment," said Cameron Ure, CEO, NCTech. "This new integration for FARO users follows on from our recent Leica collaboration and we look forward to announcing further integration developments in due course."

NCTech designs and manufactures leading 360 degree reality imaging systems that automate and streamline the workflow of image documentation and can be used repeatedly, accurately, consistently by anyone anywhere. NCTech’s industrial-grade camera, iSTAR, is a fast, fully automatic, 50 megapixel, 360 degree HDR camera. Fully calibrated for high precision applications such as colorization of laser scans or extracting photogrammetric measurements, iSTAR has multiple applications: from covert operations and police reporting of crime scenes to 3D laser documentation and asset management for the engineering and heritage sectors. In 2015, the company launched iris360, a noncalibrated camera system, intended for aesthetic panoramic image capture and fully integrated with Google Maps’ new Street View app. NCTech is headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland and is funded by Archangel Investors Ltd and the Scottish Co-Investment Fund. For more information, visit www.nctechimaging.com.

UAV for Solar Farm Inspection
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.

Team UAV provide Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) inspection and survey services to the Construction, National Infrastructure, Resources and Security industries. We’re known for our professionalism and dedication to improving safety, mitigating risk, improving operations and reducing operating costs for our Clients through the use of unmanned technology and data analysis.

For more information, contact Tom Moore tom@teamuav.uk

The United States Air Force Academy Chapel Has Been Captured (Don’t Worry–That’s a Good Thing)
The cadet chapel at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a stunning building featuring 17 identical spires that soar 150 feet into the air. Dedicated in 1963, it is a Modernist architectural gem and one of Colorado’s most photographed landmarks.

Unfortunately, half a century of exposure to the elements will take its toll on any building. The chapel’s concrete foundation, for example, has been damaged by annual freeze-thaw cycles, and the building is experiencing water infiltration.

But what other repairs might be needed and how best to communicate the need for renovation work to key stakeholders? The Academy decided it was time to assess the existing state of the chapel by documenting the structure in an entirely new way.

To tackle this task, the Academy partnered with Autodesk, whose ReCap reality capture software is able to digest data from multiple reality capture sources and generate a single, photorealistic 3D model capturing every detail of a structure.

Autodesk performed 129 scans of the interior and exterior of the cadet chapel using a FARO Focus 3D x330 laser scanner while an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) toting a GoPro camera captured 1,232 photos of the exterior. The UAV also recorded high-definition video footage of both the interior and exterior.

This data was then processed in ReCap, producing a three-dimensional "virtual chapel" that will provide utility far beyond inspecting the building for structural damage or visualizing renovation options.

"The intelligent 3D model can be used for a wide variety of applications, including air flow and energy cost analysis, three-dimensional printing, and special event planning," said Dave Papak, federal sales manager at Autodesk. "The model can also be made accessible online, so that users can take a web-based virtual tour of the chapel."

So how, exactly, would that process work? Initially, the ReCap data is inserted into Revit, Autodesk’s popular Building Information Modeling (BIM) authoring platform. Using the point cloud information as a reference, the intelligent model is created as a Revit project. Once imported into Revit, the possibilities are nearly endless as Autodesk’s High Performance Building Design Solutions are brought to bear. Whole-building envelope energy analysis can be performed using Revit’s integrated access to cloud service Green Building Studio to determine which upgrades to the building structure may have the greatest impact on energy use. Lighting Analysis for Revit provides detailed daylighting and electric lighting simulations visualized directly in the model. Exterior wind studies can be conducted in Revit using Autodesk Flow Design. Then, Autodesk Simulation CFD (CFD = computational fluid dynamics) can perform more advanced studies to inform the best HVAC design to save energy and ensure the comfort of the chapel occupants. Bi-directional integration between Revit and Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis Professional also offers the capability to perform a wide range of structural analyses, including a new wind load simulation feature that would be useful in studying the unique geometry of the Cadet Chapel. And direct links from Revit to programs such as Autodesk 3ds Max Design enables unmatched visualization and animation possibilities.

Not headed to Colorado Springs anytime soon? Here are some images and video to give you a closer look at this iconic building.

PNM Shortens NERC Patrol from 6 Months to 6 Weeks with 3D Desktop Patrolling System
Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) conducted a LiDAR survey to identify potential vegetation encroachments along its 1,200 miles of NERC-regulated Electric Transmission rights-of-way. PNM’s LiDAR vendor delivered a colorized, feature-coded 3D point cloud along with tree crown polygons attributed with conductor clearances data. PNM then faced the labor-intensive task of reviewing the vegetation found to be within its clearance threshold and generating detailed work instructions for each location. Instead of the typical field verification process, PNM used the 3D LiDAR data along with a range of 2D layers from its GIS to complete a "Desktop Patrol" of every LiDAR-derived Point of Interest (POI). This process enabled PNM to complete its review and work planning for all 1,200 miles of ROW within 6 weeks a task that normally takes 6 months. The GIS-based mitigation work plan was transferred electronically to the PNM environmental department, which overlaid the data with its own GIS layers speeding up the approval process and more quickly releasing the work to vegetation crews.

PNM partnered with Clearion Software and Behron & Associates to develop and implement the Desktop Patrolling solution. The PNM Arborist used the LP360 extension to ArcGIS Desktop from Esri alongside the Clearion Vegetation Work Management system to view the LiDAR and GIS data and to create map-based electronic work instructions for each POI in a common user interface.

Clearion Software LLC is a leader in mobile technology for planners, arborists, inspectors, auditors, and line clearance and maintenance crews. Clearion works with leading utility and infrastructure companies across the globe to solve complex operational challenges. Clearion delivers solutions for managing multi-year maintenance programs, large scale damage assessment incidents, and infrastructure design and construction projects. Clearion is a Gold Tier member of the Esri Partner Network and a member of the LewisTM family tree. For more information, visit clearion.com or contact Laura Ribas, Director of Marketing, at lribas@clearion.com.

A 4.560Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE