Flexible accuracy adds value to Environmental Services

Real-time positioning improves efficiency in capturing environmental data.

A New Zealand company uses Trimble technology to adapt to varying conditions and requirements.

Overview

In order to effectively manage and mitigate environmental problems,
organisations need accurate information on the location and characteristics of site conditions. For many applications, environmental managers must rely on low-accuracy positioning techniques to collect data for site analyses. A low-cost, high-accuracy approach to GNSS positioning is transforming one
company’s work in solving environmental challenges.

Getting to the bottom of WW1 tunnels

During World War I, 120,000 New Zealanders were sent overseas. Of those, none were more critical to the war effort than the tough miners, quarrymen, and labourers of the New Zealand Engineers Tunnelling Company (NZETC).

The men of the NZTEC were recruited for a specific mission: To create a network of tunnels between a series of abandoned quarries in Arras, France. The result would be a 2.3km-long subterranean passage through which allied soldiers could move safely during a planned assault.

The work played a crucial role in the subsequent battle. But their efforts have been largely forgotten. So when researchers Pascal Sirguey and Richard Hemi, from New Zealand’s National School of Surveying at the University of Otago, stumbled onto their story, they vowed to preserve what remained of their countrymen’s work.

Sirguey and Hemi devised a project, LiDARRAS, which would use lidar technology to capture a digital record of the tunnel network, one that they could use to honour the men during the World War I centennial. It was a big task. They would have to survey and scan what remained of the tunnels, and then create 3D models and a virtual environment of the caverns. And it all needed to be completed in just two years.

 

The two scholars had used scanning technology on other projects. So after talking with a scanning expert, they chose the Trimble TX8 3D laser scanner to help with their ambitious goals.

From the beginning, Siguey and Hemi envisioned LiDARRAS as a bicultural project. They formed a team of five students from universities in New Zealand and France.

The LiDARRAS Solution

The WWI-era tunnels in Arras, France are awe-inspiring. Large enough to accommodate 24,000 men, they contain a light rail system, a hospital, electric lights, kitchens, running water and living quarters. To quickly and accurately capture them, the researchers and their students chose the Trimble TX8 scanner, which enabled them to:

  •     Collect one million points per second
  •     Produce 3D coordinates with millimetre precision
  •     Capture high-density colour photographic data for realistic texturing of a 3D model
  •     Use Trimble RealWorks software to create high-resolution photorealistic models, even in the dim light of the tunnels

Each day, the students would begin scanning in one quarry and progress to the end of another. Thanks to the lightning-fast TX8 scanner and its DSLR camera capabilities, they completed up to 63 scans per day and captured dozens of high-resolution photos to colorise the point clouds.

“The speed of the scanner was phenomenal,” Sirguey said.

Over the course of LiDARRAS, the team completed nearly 1000 scans and collected about 100 billion points, making it one of the larger scanning projects processed in New Zealand. The final point cloud features about 25 billion points.

In addition to the scans, the students captured 9768 photos, which they processed into 814 panoramas. They also surveyed a georeferenced network of 32 control
 marks, including outside and underground marks, using static GNSS and total stations. The team processed its data in Trimble RealWorks software.

Shortly before the project was completed, the students and researchers were invited to attend the remembrance ceremony of the Battle of Arras. There, they shared details of
 their work and unveiled an animation of the underground network. The team also generated a fly-through inside the 3D point cloud, to demonstrate the full extent of the completed survey.

“LiDARRAS went beyond what we ever expected. The data and imagery was excellent, and we had everything documented and turned over to the city of Arras in time for the anniversary. But beyond its technical and historical merits for the general public, the project offered a unique opportunity to preserve a piece of history, Sirguey said.

Following the presentation at the ceremony, a regional agency conducting an inventory of tunnels in northern France approached Sirguey about the work at Arras. The agency asked for assistance in producing a “light” resampled version of the point cloud, as well as a footprint of the area scanned, to be added to its inventory.

“This is precisely the outcome we anticipated,” Sirguey said. “It’s pleasing to see how the project is contributing to other projects already.”

To learn more about the scanning solution click here

Trimble Catalyst Wins Awards

Catalyst has taken top honors at the 2017 NZ Spatial Excellence Awards, securing the Supreme Excellence Award and the  award for Innovation & Commercialisation. Bringing together innovators from the NZ spatial industries, the awards recognise products or projects that made a significant contribution to the industry through the introduction of a new idea, method, technology, process or application resulting in social, environmental and/or economic benefits.

“Trimble’s innovation, called Catalyst, allows positioning measurements to be more cost-effective and accessible to a much wider audience without compromising accuracy” says Hadyn Smith, NZSEA chair.

“Out of all the entries, this promises to have the most impact.  It stood out for its immense potential for delivering survey accurate measurement solutions using widely available mobile means – its professional and public reach, therefore, cannot be underestimated” commented the award judges.

Trimble Catalyst

With increasing processing power, high resolution graphics and the connectivity to deliver spatial data to their users, smartphones and tablets have become a low cost data collection tool.
With these increased capabilities a broad range of mobile apps have become available, however their use in the spatial industry has been limited by the accuracy of the internal GNSS receiver in the mobile devices, and the relative cost of high accuracy GNSS receivers.  While high accuracy GNSS has been adopted by the members of the spatial industry whose roles are dedicated to measurement, the cost/benefit ratio has been a barrier to the broader use of high accuracy GNSS by casual users of positioning – people who are primarily performing a work task from maintenance and inspection through communication and collaboration who in the course of their work periodically need high accuracy positioning.
In the past, either compromises have been made on accuracy or the need has been serviced by bringing in measurement professionals. This innovation has been the development of an Android based soft GNSS receiver (a GNSS receiver that is purely in software) and low cost multi frequency GNSS antenna allowing smartphones to achieve accuracies of up to a centimeter using a globally available subscription service.
Delivered using a positioning as a service business model the innovation changes the cost/benefit ratio to make the use and availability of high accuracy GNSS now affordable for the casual users where accurate positioning is required to support their primary job/task, opening up the use of high accuracy spatial information to a far more extensive range of users through a growing range of smartphone/tablet based applications.
Visit the Catalyst website for more information.

Trimble Business Center version 3.82

Trimble have announced the release of Trimble Business Center (TBC) version 3.82.

This release includes two new features: Cutting Plane View and Plane Definition Manager. Working together these two features allow you to efficiently extract CAD data using user defined planes. They are especially useful in creating section views from non-horizontal objects like building facades and surfaces.

Find out more, and watch the video, on the Trimble Community or download TBC v3.82 from the Trimble website.

In-depth look into Trimble Business Center (TBC)

Surveyors have always used cutting-edge technology. Now that field notes have been replaced by controllers and most of the work is being done in software packages it only makes sense they this software is also cutting edge.

Trimble Business Center (TBC) provides you with the capability to efficiently edit, process, and adjust geospatial data and create deliverables with confidence and is still evolving.

Geospatial Applications Engineer, Chris Power, gives us an in-depth look into TBC in the video below.