Points & Pixels

Black Swift Technologies Summits Extreme Altitude Mapping Test of Mount Evans (14,265′) with Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS)
Crisp Orthophotos Map 300 Acres with sUAS Flying at Over 14,000 Feet
Overcoming the challenges of mapping terrain in difficult conditions at altitudes exceeding 14,000 feet using a small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS), Black Swift Technologies (BST), a specialized engineering firm based in Boulder, CO demonstrated that a sUAS can successfully be deployed at extreme altitudes and deliver geo-referenced digital aerial images enabling detailed actionable information cost-effectively without concern for a surveyor’s wellbeing or equipment malfunctions.

A 2.312Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine is HERE

Utilizing BST’s SwiftTrainer, a turnkey sUAS flight system designed specifically for GIS mapping applications, BST captured millions of data points in a fully autonomous flight over one of Colorado’s spectacular 14ers, Mount Evans. The geo-tagged images were easily integrated into processing software resulting in an accurate 3D orthomosaic (a highly detailed map in true scale).

“Surveyors have been using sUAS in place of more expensive manned aerial missions for quite some time now,” states Jack Elston, Ph.D., CEO of Black Swift Technologies. “Being able to demonstrate that a sUAS can be an effective and accurate mapping platform in areas inaccessible to vehicles or at extreme altitudes solidifies the added value surveyors can offer their clients.”

Reliable and Easy to Use
Using BST’s exclusively developed Mission Planning Software, surveyors can program the SwiftTrainer in minutes to calculate the area under review and then begin collecting data for immediate analysis and decision making. Leveraging an intuitive tab-driven interface, flight planning is simple and easy to accomplish. Mission monitoring and mapping is all done from a handheld Android Tablet loaded with

BST’s SwiftTab software. Intuitive gesture-based controls enable users to confidently deploy their SwiftTrainer with minimal training while being able to collect data over geography that is topically diverse with confidence.

Fully Integrated Solution
Unlike other sUAS offerings that cobble together hardware and software from a variety of sources to assemble their solutions, BST’s aerospace and software engineers designed the hardware, flight management system, and essential software from the ground up. This unified, fully integrated approach ensures that users have the right airframe and sensor suite to address their specific application requirements without compromise.

A video overview of the Mount Evans Extreme Altitude Mapping Test can be viewed at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=O_eEpHBIUAc

About Black Swift Technologies
Founded in 2011, Black Swift Technologies LLC, develops custom unmanned aircraft system (UAS) solutions leveraging the SwiftCore Flight Management System (FMS) consisting of the SwiftPilot autopilot system, the SwiftTab tablet-based user interface, the SwiftStation ground station, and application specific sensor integrations. The SwiftCore FMS is designed to be modular, robust, and simple to operate allowing users to focus on data products.

In addition to the SwiftCore FMS, Black Swift Technologies has unique capabilities to develop and deploy advanced small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) due the team’s combined expertise in the design, implementation, and analysis of advanced “smart” control systems, expertise in legal and safe flight operations in the United States airspace, and their practical experience and knowledge from thousands of hours of UAS flight operations in demanding conditions. The SwiftCore FMS enables advanced control systems. These “smart” control systems provide industry leading sensor-based control of the UAS that minimizes operator workload while improving the quality of the observed data by autonomously modifying the flight path based on sensor inputs.

More information on Black Swift Technologies and their suite of sUAS solutions can be found at: www.blackswifttech.com.

LiDAR DEMs for the Perfect Lake Oil Prospect near Fort Wayne, IN
These are digital elevation models of portions of Steuben County, Indiana and are derived from the 2011-2013 Indiana LiDAR survey. The survey was collected by Wolpert with a point density of 1.56 pt/m2. All images are multi colored 65% transparent stretched rasters overlying a hill shaded raster using only bare earth returns. These DEM’s were created by Knox Geological LLC of Fort Wayne, IN and were a result of working with Clayton Energy of Jackson, MI on the Perfect Lake Oil Prospect. Data was downloaded from Open Topography.

The Flint Channel is an excellent example of how a large continental glacier releases vast amounts of water while retreating. Over a very short distance a massive channel in the glacial drift was created by the runoff. Three different drainage systems are visible in the Flint Channel.

The I69 and I80 interchange is in northern Indiana lake country. The simple elegance of the highways compared to the chaos of the glacial drift makes this map a great study in contrasts.

Hamilton Lake is the central feature of this map with Ball and Perfect Lakes to the west. It is a good image of the resulting topography left behind by a retreating continental glacier.

Chuck Knox is owner of Knox Geological LLC and has been using LiDAR data in the exploration of oil and natural gas for the past 5 years. For more information: Knox Geological LLC, 260-466-2422, F4tknox@comcast.net

Myths and Facts About BIM
Why BIM?

Building information modeling (BIM) is an exceptionally powerful tool for the design and construction industries. Offering a 3D visual database of your project, BIM contains all of the design and construction details required to virtually see and build your project. Owners are now capable of seeing into the future and can make decisions with confidence.

If you’re an architect, designer, engineer, contractor, owner or client, you will benefit from BIM.

Why Now?
Over the past several years, BIM’s popularity has grown at a steady rate. It seems, however, that architectural professionals have rapidly changed their perception of BIM within the last year or so. Once considered a “nice tool,” BIM has now become a necessity. The extraordinary value of building information modeling (BIM) is now widely acknowledged and accepted in the A/E/C/O industry. Today, many governments even require that a BIM be developed for every building–a mandate expected to appear in the United States in the near future.

BIM is the leading innovative tool of our time, providing firms with an edge and setting them apart from other companies. Despite BIM being widely accepted in the A/E/C/O industry, there still seem to be some negative perceptions on institutionalizing BIM. Let’s discuss some of the myths keeping firms away from integrating BIM into their process.

BIM doesn’t have a good return on investment (ROI).

Although some firms are concerned about the cost of incorporating BIM into their process, many report an incredible ROI once they make the leap to BIM.
Most BIM software manufacturers do not require you to purchase annual subscriptions, and providers often have low-cost monthly rental fees.
A few tips:
Plan ahead. Take small steps when implementing BIM. Choose which steps are appropriate for your firm and tackle them one at a time.
Do a BIM test run on a pilot project. See how your firm does and then use the pilot project to prepare for BIM implementation.

BIM isn’t necessary for small firms.
A common misconception is BIM is only valuable for large firms. In actuality, small firms may benefit from the collaboration and efficiencies of BIM even more than larger firms.
BIM allows small firms to: easily sell ideas to clients with 3D visualization increase design accuracy coordinate designs efficiently with other disciplines

BIM is just for the design and construction process.
Owners implement BIM in their project standards to benefit from post-construction features like asset management, facilities maintenance and overall building operations.
BIM is future-proof. The inevitability of software changes will not affect the BIM data because it never expires.

BIM is too difficult to learn.
There are many free resources and tutorials available online.
BIM software companies provide both short and extensive tutorials, along with monthly training updates.
There are many quick little videos available to help you overcome just about any obstacle.

BIM improves design
Visualization of the finished product produces more effective and elegant designs.
By enabling coordination across disciplines through design and contract document production, BIM further enhances the completed design.

BIM allows clients to truly understand their buildings.
A dimensionally accurate BIM provides a sense of scale, allowing clients to experience the building prior to renovation. This feature gives them a true sense of what the space will feel like before construction begins, reducing misunderstandings between architects and clients during the design process.
BIM can help you predict power consumption, light use and similar factors, thus increasing energy efficiency.

BIM provides a sophisticated way of sharing information.
Efficient data exchange aids with ongoing building management; tracking and predicting maintenance costs; improving design accuracy; and reducing duplicated work, ultimately giving your firm more time to design and focus on client services.
BIM allows you to resolve issues instantaneously and save time by automating lower-value tasks.

The A/E/C/O industry has tackled many obstacles over the years, and BIM is just another bump in the road–a bump with an abundance of benefits and applications. Make this transition easy by staying up-to-date and taking advantage of resources like Epic Scan and BIM Forum.

Stay tuned for future articles where we will explore the applications of BIM. For additional information, give us a call at 415.524.0516 or email projects@epicscan.com.

Advantages of Using 3D Revit BIM in Renovations
We know one of the very costly aspects of a renovation and retrofit project is the occurrence of errors due to insufficient knowledge of existing conditions of a building and its infrastructure. When we were asked by Dalmark Development Group, LLC to provide a 3D Revit building information model (BIM) of the existing conditions of the Attucks building, we knew BIM scanning could provide the information they needed.

The Attucks building, constructed in 1905, was designed by Kansas City architect Charles A. Smith, is listed on the national and state historical registers, and is significant for its role in the education history of the African-American community in Kansas City. With such a historic building, there are bound to be unforeseen existing conditions that could add up very quickly. With the use of BIM generated from scanning, our goal was to distinguish those problems at the beginning of the project thus saving our customer time and money.

Here are a few key benefits to a project owner from a BIM project:
Provides analysis of building systems, alternative materials, equipment, and technologies which leads to more informed decision-making.
Identifies constructability conflicts.
Reduces overall project delivery times for design and construction.
Facilitates the analysis of sustainable design alternatives and cost comparisons.

Our Strategy and Technology
Existing site conditions presented some unique challenges. We faced the challenges head-on with our no-problem approach by combining innovative use of technology and some workflow integration. This strategy improved project safety and saved approximately two weeks of field time.

While our main focus was safety of personnel doing the indoor measurements, we overcame structural and air quality issues including: visible deterioration in the wood floorings, ceiling collapses, and air quality conditions (asbestos particulate matter) by combining Leica P-40 and ZEB-REVO scanning systems.

Control Coordinates
A detailed control system of coordinates were established to provide accurate control for the 3D scanning process. For the building exterior, we selected the Leica P-40 scanner do to its high accuracy and point acquisition rate. This process involved approximately 25 setups all acquired in one day of scanning, and included several “key” interior scans for follow-on registration.

Building Interior Technology
For the building interior we chose the new GeoSLAM ZEBREVO hand-held mobile mapping scanner using 3D SLAM technology, but what does this mean?

Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM) technology was born in the robotics industry and is used by autonomous vehicles to concurrently map and navigate through an unknown environment. To do this SLAM algorithm utilize information from sensors (often LiDAR or imagery) to compute a best estimate of the devices location and a map of the environment around it.

Why is it Important? SLAM algorithms provide a way for a sensor to measure a building or environment, while simultaneously locating itself. All of this work is performed on-the-fly with no previous location information required. Because of this, SLAM algorithms are ideal for applications where GPS or survey control are unavailable or unreliable. When compared to traditional survey methods for measuring indoors, such as tape and disto, or static laser scanners, mobile indoor mapping is proven to be up to 10 times faster.

Tying it all together
The building was modeled using a combination of data collected from a Leica P40 and ZEB-REVO scanners. Cyclone 9.1.4 provided the ability to effectively register both data sets to a common coordinate system and export to Autodesk ReCap as a. pts file format. We divided data into 10 GB files for efficient use in ReCap and Revit 2014, where a level 200 BIM model was created. The model documented basic architectural and structural components of the building’s interior and exterior.

With our part of the project wrapped up, the Jazz District Redevelopment Corporation (JDRC) is studying the structural integrity and space utilization of the building for consideration as a community performing arts center and for office space. If constructed, the proposed performing arts and office space will contribute to the 18th and Vine Historic District in Kansas City, which earned the name, “Jazz District” during the period from 1920 to 1940 when it became the center of jazz music.

Mitch Schefcik, Geoinformatics Manager Mitch.schefcik@ibhc.com (913)663-1900

Resonon releases hyperspectral imaging system for UAV remote sensing
Completely integrated system delivers high-precision georegistered hyperspectral data in a cost-effective, compact package

Resonon Inc. (Bozeman, Montana, USA) has released an airborne hyperspectral imaging system for UAV’s that provides high-precision remote sensing hyperspectral data. The system is light enough to fly on many UAVs, and contains all hardware and software necessary to acquire georegistered hyperspectral data.

Historically hyperspectral remote sensing has been confined to large expensive systems that fly on large platforms. Recently the development of small, affordable, user-friendly hyperspectral sensors along with a dramatic expansion of the aerial drone market has enabled researchers worldwide to access this exciting technology.

However, despite a vast array of scientific studies showing potential benefits, hyperspectral remote sensing is still largely a research topic and the analytical techniques required to transform this technology to commercially viable products remain to be developed.

“We have designed the system for users that wants to focus on their research they do not have to be an expert in hyperspectral imaging or remote sensing,” says Rand Swanson, President of Resonon. “Because it is a turnkey system, the user can literally pull it out of the box, mount it in their drone, and begin collecting data right away.”

The hyperspectral camera scans the 400-1000 nm spectral range and the entire system weighs 1.5 kg. Georegistration software is included. The system produces high-precision data: 281 spectral channels with resolution 2.1 nm, 900 spatial pixels, with low distortions and excellent image quality.

“Research funds are difficult to come by, and researchers do not have any money to waste, so our customers are very price-sensitive,” says Swanson. “We at Resonon have worked diligently to keep costs down so our sensor packages can be available to everyone.”

The system is easy to use, from initial setup to data post-processing. Multiple calibration options are available, and the system can mount in drones and manned aircraft. Potential applications include creating maps of vegetation indices, automated anomaly detection, and early detection of crop stress. The output data is delivered in standard remote sensing formats, accessible with many software tools.

The technology is growing rapidly, especially in agriculture and environmental sciences. These topics address critical issues worldwide and the use of hyperspectral data to solve these problems is expected to grow. Getting hyperspectral sensors into as many hands as possible will advance the remote sensing market and more importantly advance the studies of precision agriculture and environmental preservation.

The system is available now.

For more information see www.resonon.com. Resonon, Inc Bozeman, USA +1 (406) 586-3356 inquiry@resonon.com

A 2.312Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE