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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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.

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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Hiding from AI

So as I trawl the net to share other good posts that are tech related, I found this one which I had to share regarding hiding from Surveilance systems. This is very noteworthy for those that are using security camera based security systems as well as those at the more advanced end of the state level spy game.

There will be an answer developed but for those wanting to rely on facial recognition software, have a look before investing your millions of pounds.

AI Invisibility

BIM – The OpenSource method

Ok so today is all about creating a Virtual World without spending too much money although I would always advise donating and supporting the OpenSource projects because we all benefit from them and they tend to have great imaginative and ethical origins which remain strong throughout the lifecycle of the project. Throughout this post I have added the links to the websites which will open in new tabs, if clicked, and you will see that they all have ethics and a dream at their core.

So to Generate the Virtual World / BIM solution – What do we need? (aside from a little training – all documentation is available on the websites)

Domain (£20 per year) – to have a web address like http://www.vulcansrealm.com, you need to buy it and register it on a Domain Name Service. Its all done for you and is as simple as buying a computer on Amazon.

Next we need some serious Hardware which can be upgraded slowly as required. A cloud network allows us to do this brilliantly and to surprisingly use low cost equipment to do this. So for instance you may want to spend a £1000 on a nice refurbished all in one server 64bit, 16GB RAM, 2TB disk with dual network cards — but this is not a traditional server service – its a cloud service and maybe you are starting from more humble origins

So as a cloud service, in the not too distant future, we will need a cloud resource handler. This is, In Laymans speak, what makes all the servers talk and co-operate together seemlessly. There is no reason why we can’t incorporate that from the start and use OPENSTACK and now we can change our hardware requirements to something more humble like a Raspberry Pi3B+  and I believe this is the way.

You can start with 1 and as you develop you can slowly add them till you have a small  cluster of raspberry pi3B+’s. I say small, maybe you will end up with a large cluster in multiple Global locations or Hubs.

I need to test if you can just pull one memory card out of one RPI3B+ and insert into another so you can have your little RPI3B+ cloud service easily maintainable if a Component fails. I have no reason to doubt this could be the case as RPI3B+’s don’t appear to have a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip and use open source Operating systems which are not intended to prevent sharing. This is one of the aspects why you can’t pull a hard drive from one windows 10 pc and put it in another.

Ok so what software do we need to make my Raspberry Pi3B+ into a cloud server, Simply put UBUNTU server (free) and NEXTCLOUD which is free for home use and companies with upto 50 employees. When you become a big boy commercial, you will have a small support package to buy but if you have more than 50 employees, a few thousand pounds is merely a round of drinks. I should add, I am happy to tag along to an open bar if anyone is offering.

So we are starting small which means we probably do not have a fixed IP address on our internet providers connection and running this from a home Internet connection like SKY, which changes the IP address each time it connects or after a period of time, so we will need to have whats called a DDNS handler. Once your device is registered on this service, all traffic that was routed to your old IP address is routed to the new IP address automatically in real time. For more information Google DDNS but a service with noip.com will typically cost £25 a year – hold on why not the free personal use option with other providers, they are for personal use and they will know what you are upto. Its the equivalent of being caught with your hand in someones wallet and saying I didn’t know. If you believe in KARMA (not the drone) you will stay above board. you can also get a whole host of other services and even your domain name from noip.com too.

Ok so we have an always connected managed server(s) in our cloud network, we need an email service to be contactable with our users and for security reasons. For this we can use hMail server (free) or alternatively you can have noip.com provide this for you but we are going for less reliance on others so lets have hMail.

To handle all the Geospatial Information we can Incorporate QGIS server or other OSGEO server products(free) so we now have mapping. Its building up isn’t it.

So we really want to get to the fun stuff and walk around in virtual space but we need to identify with the technology and with this being industrial related, lets use OpenMaint for asset management and data maintenance.

One of the beautifull things with Cloud computing is Virtual Machines, they absolutely anhialate bandwidth but NextCloud supports them and it simplifies the process so for those updating and creating the Virtual Space. Lets Install XAMP vm server running apache. php and mySQL.

We can now load,submit and run pointcloud files using POTREE point cloud viewer (free)(see next cloud docs and using docker)

For converting point clouds into mesh to be modified as models for the Virtual World physics engines, we can run MESHLAB running on a vm instance (free)

We can process the models once converted using BLENDER 2.8 on a vm instance (free) (requires good graphics upgrade, suggest a good pc and transfer the data after processing in a separate render farm but not from the realms of do-able at low cost)

So we have a dumb Virtual World now. Lets add Physics and gamifi using ARMORY3D(free) (requires BLENDER 2.8 but this is packaged with the download)

So we have our world but how do we make it accesible. lets use AGONES (requires kubernetes) or GAMINGANYWHERE(requires windows OS) for online realtime hosted games/simulations (free).

Hold on – Kubernetes why not just use this to manage the cloud instead of OPENSTACK. It is more a preference to make them work together. In laymans terms Kubernetes is the operations manager of container ships where Openstack is the shipping company. Yes the operations manager will perform the work like the company but the company also has a finance department, customer liason, Welfare, Sales etc.

We should now have an online fully interactive cloud hosted virtual world for nearly no money, reliable and infinitely upgradeable.

So What about That Pint you mentioned…………..

DRIVERLESS/AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES – HOW?

Another great creative article regarding Driver less technology or Autonomous vehicle technology. Its not intended as a complete solution but more of a creative excerpt to think and accept there are alternative ways that, using todays technology, we can overcome tomorrows hurdles in a seemless transition.

https://vulcansrealm.com/driverless-cars-how/