Mapping Underground Assets

The vivax metrotech system for mapping underground assets like pipework and cable runs with a relatively high accuracy.

The equipment that has inspired this idea is the VIVAX METROTECH vSCAN range which can be viewed here. https://www.vivax-metrotech.com/

Like many utility detectors, It locates wires and buried metalic objects but what is so great about the direction of this product range is that it can combine with locating a sewer Inspection camera head which brings the ability to reality capture, with photogrammetry, inside of pipework or cable runs. Not the best result as it is only in one direction but there is nothing stopping this being developed into fore and aft cameras.

To do this, you send the vCamMX camera up the pipe or chamber  which records all the image data while someone walks above the ground with the vLocCam2 Locator. This will provide the depth relative to the locator which records it geolocation.

It is also handy to be able to Geolocate all detected power lines and utility services like CATV, telephone and pipework over 50mm. I think thats a safe bet as the diameter of the smaller head is 18mm so might be able to be used in smaller bores to confirm the laying of a water pipe for instance but the manufacturer states 50mm.

There really is not much to say about this process as it is just amalgamating a current CCTV of sewers process with an upgraded utility detector with GPS but it is more the tool that makes it easy to process the data in an automated fashion.

Having said that, with the potential to 3D model the video, it can also aid non destructive computer based testing and defect detection of underground utility services.

The geolocation aspect of this also provides a way to satisfy much of the financial risk of PAS256 and the geographic linking between non-infrastructure assets.

 

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Indoor Drone Flying

Indoor Drone Flying has its disadvantages regarding autonomous flight but has many benefits including

  • No CAA Licence required – The CAA is only interested in external airspace and has updated its ANO (Air Navigation Order) to reflect this – in short, if it cant escape into an external airspace then it now falls under Health and Safety and not the Airspace legislator. This also goes further to include netted structures. Having said that, your Health and Safety may want you to have a licence as a competency requirement much like a driving licence but this could also be an in-house course. https://www.caa.co.uk/Consumers/Unmanned-aircraft/Recreational-drones/Recreational-drone-flights/
  • Small drones can reach places for inspection where it may be impractical to send a person i.e. confined spaces or into tall buildings to alleviate the working at height risks or cover search areas with thermal imaging to look for people or faults.

So I am liking this concept and sure enough there is a solution on the market – Enter the ELIOS 2 from Flyability. At this point I will say that I am not on commission and have only seen one of these on display by COPTRZ at the GeoBusiness day.

Image of ELIOS 2 Indoor Drone
An Image of ELIOS 2 indoor Drone (photographed from the COPTRZ brochure)

So this drone is in the realms of £25k but it boasts the following:-

  • Collision resilient cage (Carbon Fibre 40cm Diameter)
  • GPS free Stabilization
  • Distance Lock from object if monitoring one object – i.e. an automated process or inspecting structures – I am thinking visual inspections of aircraft skin joints in a hangar would be one great application with the oblique lighting. Thermal imaging of composits in-situ (an authorised work process would be required of course) etc
  • 4k Camera
  • Thermal Camera (FLIR)
  • 180 degree tilting camera pod
  • Adjustable and Oblique Lighting upto 10k lumens. This is also Dustproof.
  • FPV without line of sight
  • Flight and Reporting is performed via the Cockpit 2 software
  • 1 day of training to get the most out of it.
  • Transport case
  • Remote Control (2.4GHz) and Samsung Tablet
  • IATA approved for carry on Luggage

 

All that with a 10 minutes flight time but with a 1 min battery change time, you could inspect whatever you wanted and send the video or images to the relevent qualified person to study.

One minute a 737 Bulkhead inspection, the next an A380 paint inspection after a storm – One person on location and the expensive engineers at home base for the time duration required – no more or less. Maybe even some post maintenance inspections can be performed remotely this way reducing senior engineers physically onsite.

What does this mean – No more flying teams of engineers with every tool for every eventuality or erecting scaffolding to inspect/appraise faults. You just need a drone operator and a remote engineer.

Imagine the time resource this will free from travel as well as the carbon footprint. This is Proactive Workforce management but of course Regulations and best practices apply and as always I am trying to start a conversation with ideas for you to debate not go ahead and act based on what you have read. Please see site usage terms and conditions for more information.

For more information or Demo please visit the flyability or COPTRZ websites.

If you do, please let them know you saw it here and they may let me review one.

 

NAVVIS M6 MOBILE REALITY CAPTURE

The Terestrial Scanning scene has been dominated by static Laserscanners or heavy post processing of photogrammetric data. Now there is another way:-

The all-in-one indoor reality capture mobile mapping system – NavVis M6

Once set up, all you have to do is push it along and let it scan continuously. Now you no longer have to plan your static scan positions for line of sight, just push it round all objects and the job is done. No more worrying if you had the line of site on that object.

It claims and is foreseeable to be able to:-

  • Scan up to 30x faster than with stationary scanners and devices
  • Capture up to 30,000 square meters per day
  • Adapt to complex indoor environments while continuously scanning

These are bold claims but it just looks so easy.

I do see an issue, being devils advocate, is crossing voids and industrial process floorings. It sure will be able to traverse workshops, warehouses, Hangars and offices but when it comes to Stairs and crossing voids, I am sure some kind of work-around will need to be envisaged. Otherwise it really looks like a game changer for Reality Capture.

Their Brochure is below but for further Information please visit their website www.navvis.com/m6

VISUALISATION WITH PANOPTIKON

PANOPTIKON – It is Swedish,  and as far as I can remember the translation means ‘to observe’ but comes from the Greek ‘all-seeing’ and in English refers to ‘a Prison with cells arranged around a central point so they can be seen at all times’ – Very Colonial, I prefer the Swedish as it is simply clear and just looks cool which is much the story with the PANOPTIKON visualisation software.

I saw these guys at the GeoBusiness 2019 and was blown away by the potential this has to engage with communities in an open and clear method across any language barrier. In short, it is a really good Video/Augmented Reality Communication/engagement tool for BIM.

We have all seen videos of proposed construction sites ‘this is what it will look like if we have the OK’ in dry architectural drawings but this incorporates all BIM model data so it releases all the power of the digital age to show a vision of exactly how it is to how it will be built exactly.

It Does this buy combining Drone footage with BIM Data and combining the two. The following 2 screen shots are from their video but it shows the effect. You can view the video on their website www.bjorkstromrobotics.com

The next applications I see are in farming and infrastructure development to aid positive engagement of communities to develop their land.

Imagine a community or utility has a sudden issue with over development i.e. too much home building (postage stamp houses) and blocks development, maybe there is no parking spaces or playgrounds. You need to address their concerns and convince them that there is a plan to resolve the issue.

This is the communication tool to do just that.

They also have another really useful tool for a tablet which shows where all the utility services run and will visualise in real space (on the tablet) everything that is proposed with accurate GNSS derived positioning.

So now if we combine the 2 products, we are looking at the ability to show a video demonstration of the project life cycle, at the build location, and then after the video you can engage with the audience in live augmented reality to answer any of their questions – maybe discover new ones but it is a full engagement system. They can even walk around with the tablet to see what the new area will look like and get a feel for it. I am hopeful that they will develop for full Mixed Reality soon but they seem keen to develop the product to fulfill their partners need – and I like that Partner attitude, not just customer, customer just sounds disposable to me.

The other use, I see, is in forensics, Health and safety or engineering to reconstruct events on site whether it be an accident and you need to investigate view points on site or an augmented reconstruction, or maybe you just want to maximise your aircraft parking in your hangar.

OK so I am not on commission so I will now refer you to their website for further information and videos www.bjorkstromrobotics.com/

I will however say that it was an insightful discussion I had on the day and they seem like a very helpful and positive group to deal with.

UGEE M708 GRAPHICS TABLET

I always wanted an all singing and dancing Wacom Graphics tablet for my 3D modelling but the thought of paying similar to a new laptop got me thinking about the Lenovo Yoga series of laptop, with the foldable screen hinge, as you can see and interact directly with your model or digital art.

I wanted to also make sure it was what I wanted so thought ‘Go Cheap import to test before investing huge wedge’ and found this UGEE M708 Graphics Tablet for £60 2 years back and it is still going well. I have the older battery powered pen version but the one from amazon below has a self recharging pen which is cool, having said that the battery normally lasts me 2 months which is ok for a single AAA battery. I will also mention there are others like XP PEN which are cheaper still and look the same but that’s all I can say.

Click Here to See the UGEE M708 on Amazon

Ok so after wanting one of these for ages, I now have it. Its A4 ish paper size so quite large so I should be good to go. I mean, I can use Blender and 3DS with a mouse, right, and this was supposed to be more natural. That’s the problem, I have no natural art skill so thats my first thing to say – you can have all the tools but don’t expect to be pulling a Van Gogh in 5 minutes. Now I am glad I only spent £60 and not £400 on its equivalent Wacom.

Ok so I never give up and slowly started to see what I can do with simple spray can art which was great and I managed to make some beautiful coloured boxes in Blender. Without knowing I slowly started replacing my mouse with the pad and pen, for normal computer use, as you can do all 2 button mouse operations with it while not having the Mouse click RSI as it effectively makes a normal computer gain the benefit of a Tablet at a fraction of the cost.

img_20190614_201452.jpg

IMG_20190614_201129

The Tablet itself is easy to use as the pad corners (white Brackets) are mapped to your screen so there is no dragging and scrolling like on the old tablets you just hover the pen over where you want the cursor to appear on the screen and when it is close enough to the tablet, about 15mm, sure enough the cursor appears on the screen. Sure it would be great to have one of the £700+ tablets with a screen underneath but then we go back to my original buying a Lenovo Yoga. Amazon also have them Lenovo Yoga 720

The Following Video shows how easy it is to use with Blender in Plug and Play. I am only using the Pen here but there are 6 more configurable buttons that can be tailored as you desire but you will have to load the Driver Disk (supplied) to configure them. You can also download the driver from the UGEE website if you do not have a Disk Drive.

As you can see it is very easy to use and all of this via USB plug and play. Talking of which, the pen is compatible with windows 10 ink so is customisable in Windows 10 too.

In short it is a cheap and cheerful tablet that can give you an extra few years out of your old PC when you want to expand your skills into 3D modelling / Paint / Photo Editing / Drawing / Handwriting or even just want to add some signature functions.

Ok the nitty gritty:

  • Active Area – 10″ x 6″
  • Resolution – 5080 LPI
  • Report Rate – 230 RPS
  • Accuracy – +or- 0.01″
  • Pressure sensitivity – 2048 Levels
  • Connection – USB

 

ATMOS UAV | Fixed Wing VTOL Drones for Mapping & Surveying

I saw this VTOL drone in the flesh at the GeoData exhibition in London a couple of weeks back and was very impressed as it takes photogrammetric modelling flights to the realms of 1 hour in the sub £20k bracket.

This is a tool that is perfectly tailored to DEM mapping, farming and Urban mapping.

The skin is crash resilient but that should not be a problem as all flights are pre planned and Mapped.

Definitely worth further research and look at their website for further details. The link is below.

ATMOS MARLIN

Autodesk Recap Photo – part of Recap Pro

This is a much underrated product in the AEC community but it has its strengths and is great for those that need good results that can be exported into most mesh formats.

Ok it costs £42 a month as a subscription to Recap Pro which also handles registering of laserscan data from many manufacturers. With this you get a certain amount of Cloud credit for processing your images or pointclouds into mesh models. This is not great as at last check 1 cloud credit was $1 and upto 300 photos will cost you 12 credits so even though you pay that £42 a month, every project will cost you between £10 to £50 depending on how many images you use.

This brings me on to the next issue, Photo models or closeups can only be 20-300 images and UAV / Drone Models can only be derived from a maximum of 1000 images. Considering photogrammetry tends to need at least a 30% overlap of image data to create tie points between images, you are not going to cover a great deal of area for you £50.

Ok thats the negative and why it quite rightly gets a slam from the AEC community over the costs but there are so many good things about it like:-

  • It is fairly accurate time after time
  • You only need a standard cheap laptop so there is a cost saving.
  • It has a simple GUI system to upload your project images to the cloud and download the result.
  • Once uploaded to the cloud, you no longer need to tie up your computer with processing images to models and can get on with other aspects of your business which is the strength of cloud based solutions as if you stop work, you probably lose 5 or 6 times more money than the processing cost but if it is not as expected then you have to pay again to process another project – no refunds for bad models.
  • You can optimize the export format of the model to many bits of software including Blender so no lock into autodesk products.
  • Autodesk supports students and education facilities with free access to many of their products on a Education Licence.
  • It ties in seamlessly with other Autodesk software like Maya and 3DS which are used extensively within many Industries so it adds to a great workflow.

There is also a 30 day trial available on Autodesk products so it is worth trying out for yourself.

On test it produced a model better than that of non CUDA Open source software to the extent of picking out the Cigarette Butts that had been discarded in the trough which is pretty good for that set of images. Please have a look at the video below which illustrates what you can expect. Do also note how much extra background imagery has been converted too.

I did also like how it computed a bottom for the trough even though there were no deliberate images of the bottom. 

 

 

For a complete look at this software go to Autodesk Recap Page

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