Regatta Hotel point cloud

The Next Evolution in Surveying .. High Definition


We have recently invested significant resources to be able to deliver high definition scanning deliverables to clients. Be sure to discuss how point cloud data could fit in with our existing work or be used to document your site.

A point cloud is a set of data points in some coordinate system. In a three-dimensional coordinate system, these points are usually defined by X, Y, and Z coordinates, and often are intended to represent the external surface of an object. We can now create point clouds by deploying a 3D scanner. These devices measure a large number of points on an object’s surface, and often output a point cloud as a data file. The point cloud represents the set of points that the device has measured.

When Cyril Bennett started this practice in 1917, we doubt he would ever have envisaged the technological advancements witnessed by our firm over our subsequent 97 years.

Surveying and its related disciplines of navigation, geodesy and cartography, have always been at the forefront of technology.

Surveyors have always strived for improving accuracies – it is in our DNA – from the time of the first map of the World in ~ 600BC, the construction set out techniques of the Egyptian pyramid builders, the cartographers and explorers like James Cook – we are even now collecting data and making maps of planets with multiple missions surveying Mars!

Perhaps arguably the biggest single contributor to the increase in accuracy on our ability to measure is the invention of the laser in the late 1950’s. Armed with a laser and the known constant of the speed of light and an accurate clock, we could now measure over much greater distances than with the old steel band!

This one step improved accuracies by a couple of orders of magnitude from ~ 1cm per 100m to less than 3mm over 1km. Metrology lasers can even measure with accuracies in the microns (1/1000th of a mm)  over short distances (<50m).

Total stations which have been around for about 30 years, combine sensitive angular measurements (say 1 second of arc – or about 0.02% of 360 degrees around) and distance measurements in a single device – and these are what your typical Surveyor now uses to “navigate” and measure things like the cadastre (lots of land) and to set out marks for construction.

Total stations went “robotic” about 15 years ago – in other words they had motors added to control the direction they were looking – and this now allowed remote operation.

Speed and size of data storage is the final part of our story – we can now collect gigabytes of data quickly and easily.

This has all lead to the aggregation of a these technologies into a laser-based point cloud scanner – and more to the point – a technology we can now deploy to assist with your projects.

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Our terrestrial laser scanner can collect a staggering amount of information in short time.

Our scanner is capable of collecting 50,000 survey-grade, 3-dimensional measurements PER SECOND – resulting in a database of a “cloud” of points surrounding the location of the scanner – measured out to the range of the scanner which is about 300m.

By moving the scanner repeatedly, we can collect even more data about the environment the scanner is deployed in.

The scanner also takes 270 high resolution photos of the location per set up – which are stitched together to provide a 360 degree panorama – the photo data is also used to provide colour data for the points, supplementing the intensity data from the laser’s return – resulting in a new photograph like record of the scene – but in 3 dimensions.

And it is fast – in a day we typically collect in the order of 200,000,000 survey points! Yes – 200 million measurements with millimetre accuracy. Combined with our other technology – total stations – we can have billions of points of your site on your site “grid” or coordinate system – allowing users to measure between practically anywhere the laser can get to.

This technology is now used for recording data about:

  • heritage buildings;
  • crime scenes;
  • vehicle traffic accidents;
  • metrology (like measuring an aircraft wing);
  • as-constructed data (like pipes, columns);
  • building information modelling;
  • mine stockpiles;
  • and many, many more applications.

Video: animated fly-through from a ~ 42 million point cloud.

Modelling features from a point cloud to CAD

Modelling features from a point cloud to CAD

Posted in 3D Cloud Modelling, Building Information Modelling, High Definition Surveying, Point Cloud and tagged , , .

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