Viametris Tackles the Next Frontier in Mapping: The Great Indoors!…and Outdoors

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Remote sensing technologies are mapping, surveying and recording virtually every inch of the Earth from satellites, planes, automobiles and UAVs. Yet the mapping of indoor areas still present a challenge due to the lack of GPS or GNSS signals indoors and underground. And, the demand for fast 3D professional documentation, capturing reality indoors and in restricted areas continues to rise.

The advent of Building Information Modeling (BIM) to simulate planning, design, construction, and operation of a facility helps reduce costs, save time, improve processes and safety for various end users such as construction managers, general contractors, architects, owners, and engineers who require accurate, high definition as-built, "as-is" digital data to populate their BIM.

Laser scanning to BIM is recognized as the most efficient and accurate method to obtain this information however indoor mapping has been the elusive "holy grail" due to lack of GPS or "Localization" element unattainable indoors.

To enable fast and accurate indoor mapping and mapping in challenging surroundings, Viametris developed the first mobile 3D measurement system for building interiors in 2011. The IMS3D is a hand push cart mounted with sensors that generates point clouds and images with centimeter accuracy at walking speed. The IMS3D captures up to 500,000 sq ft per day and calibrates imagery with point cloud data even in GNSS-denied areas using SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) technology. In 2015 Viametris released the second version of the IMS3D as well as the IMS2D, a portable handheld 2D interior scanner.

Viametris was created in 2007 in Laval, France to capitalize on the results of its founder’s, Jerome Ninot, doctoral thesis, (Recognition and Automatic Image Analysis for Road Environment Scanning). Their challenge was to find solutions to improve acquisition processes and data management for Lidar based mapping, point cloud management in general, and integration of subsequent data collection.

IMS 3D–3D Indoor/Outdoor Mobile Mapping Scanner
Viametris’ mobile scanner for 3D surveys was designed as an efficient solution for the challenges in topographic or measurement services in old or new buildings.

This revolutionary indoor mapping system is simple to operate and simultaneously captures 360 high resolution imagery, a 2D floor plan and a 3D LiDAR point cloud. The speed of capture is unrivaled with the ability to capture over 500,000 square feet at the speed a human can walk in just one day.

Able to perform continuous scans in high quantities, the IMS 3D is as powerful on small surfaces with tight details as it is on large buildings or factories. The device is a compact indoor mobile mapping system that has the advantage of being completely non-reliant on GPS or IMU methods of localization. The system requires no targets to be placed in the building, eliminating this time-consuming step which is required by many other approaches. User friendly, the IMS 3D is easy to transport, starts without settings, and is perfect for areas with difficult access, tight time schedules, or heavy operational constraints.

Additionally, Viamteris software PPiMMS post-processes a full 3D trajectory for the iMS3D and makes it available to combine indoor/outdoor projects in one continuous scan. The iMS 3D uses an adaptation of the SLAM technology (Simultaneous Localization And Mapping) built around the all new technologies of scanning and robotics in which Viametris is recognized as a worldwide expert.

The fastest growing application for indoor mapping is in the "Scan-to-BIM" area and Viametris has partnered with GRMC to bring a total solution and provide more value to clients for these opportunities.

Global Resources Management Consultancy Inc. (GRMC) located in New York, NY with offices in Washington DC, Northern Virginia, Delhi and Chennai is an Infrastructure, Asset and Facilities Management services company providing practical, innovative solutions in the areas of Facilities, Transportation, Mass Transit, Logistics, Urban Development and Planning.

One of the key services GRMC provides is a "full scan to BIM" process using the Viametris iMS 3D. The revolutionary indoor mapping system is simple to operate and simultaneously captures 360 high resolution imagery, a 2D floor plan and a 3D LiDAR point cloud. "The speed of capture is simply unbelievable," said a large international client. "We have captured over 500,000 square feet in just one day. Then GRMC takes the data, models it and delivers AutoCAD or REVIT models to our clients’ specifications."

"Your facility on your desktop"
GRMC projects include hospitals, schools, office buildings, factories, big box stores, retail chains among other facilities. "The fastest and most comprehensive building documentation available with no missed data," said the client. "You will literally have your entire building/facility on your desktop with accurate "as-is" information accessible across your enterprise. Since 360 high resolution imagery is provided along with the drawings or models this virtually eliminates the need to ever return to the site, thereby saving significant cost."

One of the major benefits is for emergency planning, a GRMC partner has a patented system for color coding a school in BIM and allowing emergency responders to know where to go and what to do! Other benefits include asset management, construction phase documentation, and space planning. Site investigations using the iMS3D provides vast amounts of data quickly captured from the outset, ensuring a `right first time’ approach, leading to reduced health and safety risks, minimizing site visits and carbon footprint, increased understanding of the site, and completeness of accurate and current information.

The market for indoor mapping is also strengthened as the needs of building owners and managers increase to ensure localization, navigation, accessibility, and security in public and private areas.

National retail, banking, food service, and convenience store owner/operators are examples of markets being served by Viametris partners. In the coming years, all these locations will require regular measurement readings for remodels and branding updates. For manufacturing, inventory and asset tracking–movements of machinery, expensive inventory, assets, robots, vehicles are recorded.

Smartgeometrics recently scanned the historic Waverly Mansion in Leesburg, VA with the iMS 3D. The challenge was to scan different levels of a complex building with numerous rooms–2 Floors, 5,000 SQ FT each, 20 rooms. It was scanned in 15 minutes with data accurate to 1-2cm and over 100 panoramic photos.

The Multi-purpose data collection is used for virtual tours, floor plans, and measurements. Value beyond the scan means that one acquisition provides data for many different applications and enhanced deliverables. Smartgeometrics described the project as "An incredibly well maintained building… and a perfect location for a steakhouse!"

Another project, the challenge was to collect indoor data of an amphitheater building with stairs and multiple floor levels requiring the scanning of a multi-level space to produce a simple point cloud. "This was deemed `almost impossible" by the prime contractor using hand measurements because of the complexity."

The traditional method using a static scanner would have been to combine several static scan worlds, each scene tied together with dedicated software. The iMS 3D performed 2 scans in a few minutes. Using PPIMMS post processing software it was easy to merge the two point clouds. In the end a single point cloud was produced in LAS, XYZ, and E57 file formats.

GRMC has developed a series of standard, set deliverables based upon the data derived from an iMS 3D survey that are clear, consistent and uniform for all BIM and surveying applications. GRMC modeling work is done in their NYC and India offices, but coordination, project management, and interactions are all handled in the US, by dedicated staff, in their respective time zones. Need it ALL done in the US? Just ask and it will all stay at their US facilities.

GRMC, Inc. Deliverables:
3D Models
3D point clouds are used to ensure that all modeled features are accurately placed in X, Y, and Z. Revit and CAD 3D models include a list of assets modeled to pre-determined Level of Detail (LOD). Revit models include assets in their appropriate Revit families.
3D Model Verification
Regardless of where the model came from you still need to know it is right before you start your project. With the unbelievable data capture speed of the iMS 3D the 3D point cloud can be quickly recorded, rotate it to the existing 3D model and quickly and easily identify assets or areas that need to be adjusted in the 3D model.
CAD Drawings
GRMC creates 1:1 scale `as-built’ or `asis’ 2D line work based on laser scanning point cloud data using standard line weights, layers, and symbology for these deliverables. Clients can then use this line work data as the base product to symbolize, layer, and style they prefer.
CAD Drawing Verification
Regardless of where the drawings came from you still need to know it is right before you start your project. With the iMS 3D, GRMC can quickly record a 3D point cloud, rotate it to your existing drawings and give you the ability to quickly and easily redline and update your drawings.
3D Point Clouds
A point cloud should be looked at as an `as-is’ and `raw’ 3D model in your preferred coordinate system. Point clouds can be used in free viewers, such as Autodesk Recap, and most CAD software to visualize, take measurements, document assets, and many other applications. Whether working in 2D or 3D, a point cloud is the most comprehensive way to document a site or facility.
Virtual Tour (with Measurements)
The iMS 3D has an integrated Ladybug camera (the same one used in Google StreetView) and records 360 imagery as fast as you can walk. The result is a proprietary `StreetView’ style web viewer with the ability to measure distances and areas.
Existing Conditions Surveys
A good existing conditions survey consist of updated plans, spot measurements, photos, and a full documentation of a site. Nothing will capture your site faster and more comprehensively and then deliver your preferred data format (CAD, Revit, other). With the iMS 3D you can capture a plan layout, a full 3D point cloud, and 360 photos of your entire site simultaneously and deliver it in 2D line work, 3D models, or `streetview’ style web viewer so that everyone involved gets what they need.
Construction Phase Documentation
Construction Phase Documentation with the iMS 3D is literally a walk through the site. Not only is it fast and safe, but it documents everything with a full 3D point cloud and hundreds of 360 images in one pass providing verification that all areas have been scanned and documented in the field before ever leaving ensuring there is no need to schedule another visit.
360 Imagery
Pictures are worth 1,000 words and often a lot more than that. With the iMS 3D hundreds are collected, and sometimes thousands, of images simultaneously during the survey. Not only do images give a remote view into a building, but allow the process of converting measurement data to usable plans.

Additional Viametris Products:
Initially, Viametris research focused on outdoor environments where their special technical emphasis gave birth to an automatic road data extraction software named MAGELAAN–developed for automatic feature recognition and extraction of road markings, road signs, road conditions, etc.

"Today Viametris provides a full range of products and crafts custom solutions to many LiDAR-related R&D projects," said Jerome Ninot, founder of Viamteris. "In addition to the indoor mapping system, we have developed two new scanner solutions for outdoor environments–the MMS (Mobile Mapping System), designed to fit any vehicle, and our new Backpack, to address accessibility challenges in data capture."

IMS 2D–2D Indoor Mobile Mapping Scanner
When it comes to drawing simple floor plans or quantity surveys for buildings or other facilities, the continuous interior 2D scanner from Viametris is the ideal tool because of its speed and ease of use.

Addressing current industry challenges, this continuous scanner can perform both small surveys (houses, apartments, shops, etc.) as well as very large survey environments with numerous rooms (housing, offices, shopping malls). The Viametris’ portable mobile scanner for horizontal survey (with vertical profiles) was designed for surveys needing a lower measurement density relative to the level of detail and time constraints.

Based on mobile scanning technologies, the iMS 2D operates while walking and produces a continuous horizontal profile of the scan session complete with 180 images taken every 2 meters as well as an optional vertical profile to survey heights (ceiling, windows, stairs, doors, furniture, etc.). With an integrated IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) for Attitude and Heading measurement, this scanner corrects the slopes taken by the operator.

PPiMMS–IMS Post-Processing Software
The internal technology used on the Viametris devices relies on a precise positioning algorithm called SLAM, which can sometimes suffer from drift, especially during long distance acquisitions.

PPiMMS is a powerful post-processing software that automatically corrects these drifts to compute precise and dense 3D point clouds. From an initial acquisition imported from a Viametris iMS device, the user builds the project to correct the potential drifts in the raw data, adds specific constraints or GCPs to localize it in absolute reference system, computes the point cloud, and finally export these 2D or 3D datasets.

MMS–Outdoor Mobile Mapping Scanner
The MMS can be installed on any type of vehicle (cars, trucks, ATV, etc.), it is provided with the MAGELAAN automatic road and environment recognition system and exports results to CAD formats.

Viametris’ extensive research and development on SLAM 6-DOF has simplified the mobile mapping system to a single sensor (Velodyne HDL-32e or VLP-16), making the MMS the world’s first single sensor mobile mapping solution on the market. To improve the result and to extend this method to other areas and terrain, MMS is coupled to an affordable INS system.

Without using any positioning technology nor GPS RTK due to inherent accuracy issues, Viametris MMS achieved an accuracy of 15cm, adding only three absolute control points introduced into a rigid transformation and five-centimeter accuracy achieved using Ground Control Points. This introduces a new perspective for the next generation of road mapping systems not relying on GPS,
This Starbucks project shows the ability of the iMS3D to scan "non-flat" areas.

Magelaan–Automatic Scan Data Recognition
Magelaan is the Mobile Mapping System (MMS) data processing software which automates road feature recognition. It utilizes a powerful graphic engine allowing LiDAR and image display from every MMS available on the market (Riegl, Optech, Leica, Topcon…), while the type of road elements are managed by various plugins.

Built to visualize and leverage road measurements in MMS surveys, MAGELAAN uses automatic and semiautomatic inventories to generate road data. The Road Geometry and Edges Plugin calculates curvature, slopes, sight distance and road width based on 3D point cloud data and outputs road edges polylines. The Road Marking Plugin is based on 3D point cloud and reflectivity, accepts attribute data such as width and marking modulation and outputs polylines and polygons.

While all manner of remote sensing apparatus are mapping and surveying virtually every inch of the Earth, the mapping of indoor areas still represents a "Holy Grail" for professionals such as construction managers, general contractors, architects, owners, and engineers who require accurate, high definition as-built, "as-is" digital data to manage their projects, facilities or to populate their BIM.

Indoor Location and Positioning will be huge because we spend most of our time indoors, working, shopping, eating, at the mall, at the office, on campus, etc. Google already has Indoor Maps for many airports and shopping malls.

We live in a 3D world and it is just a matter of time before it is recorded in 3D digitally. This has been a challenge due to the lack of GPS or GNSS signals indoors. The demand for fast 3D professional documentation, capturing reality indoors and in restricted areas continues to rise. Having developed the first mobile 3D measurement system for building interiors in 2011, Viametris is one company committed to enabling fast and accurate indoor mapping ….and, the race is on to capture the great indoors!

Jrme Ninot, Founder and Chief Technology Officer. PhD in image processing. Founded and launched successful, state of the art indoor/outdoor mapping related systems launching multiple successful products. Has created mobile mapping and localization systems for driverless use.
Lincoln Satkunurajah, President & CEO. Inventor, entrepreneur, MSc. (Eng) UK, P.Eng. (Canada), Certified PTOE Professional Traffic Operations Engineer) USA. Has thirty years extensive technologies based engineering experience automating traffic and related electronics specialization in Intelligent Transportation System Implementation and in Geospatial and Geo-intelligence information globally.
Pierre Lefevre, Chief of Autonomous and Mapping Technologies. Since 2010, Pierre Lefevre, CTO of Meridian Autonomous Inc., has been operating self-driving shuttles in public demonstrations and pilots throughout Europe and the US. Pierre is very accomplished in the autonomous vehicle and telecommunication industry. One of his achievements includes developing and embedding telecommunication solutions in a vehicle, the Citren Evasion, and delivering it to Bill Gates during the launching of Windows 95.

A 4.424Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE