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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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.

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

Please Like and Share this page with colleagues if you found it helpful.

Geospatial Modelling For Free

This Post has been really fun to research and what a sense of satisfaction I had when I found out how to do it but I apologise to all that follow as it has taken all my time up dedicated to this one issue so lets crack on as I am so excited.

So what did I want to prove?

  1. I wanted to prove that you could Geospatial model straight from a game engine like Unity or Armory3D
  2. This could be done for free without having to hard code – spreadsheet is fine as most that read this will be able to use basic spreadsheets but few will be able to go off writing Translation programs so it had to be a solution for all.
  3. No Proprietry Lock in to a platform.
  4. It also has to be able to make the Modelling program geospatial so you can tie the world together.

Where Did I start?

First I wanted to see what was possible with what I had, a FARO S70 Laserscan, FARO SCENE LT 2019 (yes its free and meshes point clouds beautifully if you have the hardware), Blender 2.8, Meshlab.

I will first say that the Laserscan I had was Geolocated as a project, If you are inserting a non geolocated laserscan, you can adjust the geolocation in the properties section. Even still, this is not a problem as I will also explain how to geolocate a standard mesh too so you don’t need a laserscan, its just this software makes it a cleaner process.

So I meshed out the laserscan in FARO SCENE and exported as OBJ,PLY,STL etc but none of the formats could show up in the viewport. With so much saying about Blender 2.8 Bugs at the moment, I just dismissed this as an option so I opened up in Meshlab and voila, it was there, a lovely Laserscan of the building. So I saved it and made a new OBJ file which was almost twice the size of the first and imported into UNITY which on completion was nowhere to be seen.

After much faffing with this and that and trying this, standing on one leg with fingers crossed and arms – anyway you get the picture, while exporting or clinching at any last notes from the net, I thought OBJ – its an old format, I wonder if I can open it in Notepad.

Sure enough it is a text file format and the first thing I recognised was that the X,Y,Z looked an aweful lot like Decimal Degree co-ordinates for the area but out of range.

Now while researching GNSS Systems I had to get familiar with different Historical systems of mapping in use and origins as well as the Technical aspects to the satellites themselves – Good Times :-), The point is that I was reminded of not looking at the world as a globe but as a flat paper map. Flat Land Maps, not Naval Charts, Used to be and often are still in a system using Cartesian Co-ordinates commonly known as Eastings and Northings.

So I went to the Ordnance Survey Site and inserted the

  • X value in the Eastings Field,
  • Y value in Northings Field,
  • Z value in the Height Field.

BINGO exactly where the scan was Taken

So if it is here then why cant I work on it in my modelling suite, i.e. 3DS or Blender. Thats simple now, we know Eastings and Northings are in meters like Blender and 3DS so an Eastings of 583947.75m would be 583.94775KM East of the 0 point on the X axis, a little way away so of course you will see nothing.

In Blender, you can correct this easily by first Selecting the Imported Object in the Heirachy, Move the Cursor over the Viewport and Right Click. This will give you a menu where you can select ‘Set Origin’ which opens a sub menu and select ‘Set Origin To Geometry’.

You should now see the Transform Component have a huge number in X and Y but Z hopefully will be the Altitude so much smaller.

MAKE A COPY of THIS AS YOU WILL NEED TO PUT IT BACK.

OK now go into Edit Mode (push tab) and set the Local Median co-ordinates to 0 ( it will not allow Zero and will go to some smallish number). This only sets the centre of the model to 0 or in the middle ish but close enough for this as it is all relative from now on.

Go Back into object mode and hopefully your Transform component numbers have not changed, now set them to Zero. Your model should now be there.

Do your modelling and once finished, put the old Transform co-ordinates that you copied, back into the Transform Component to Re-locate the Model back into its Geolocated Space.

The link between the XYZ to Eastings and Northings is really powerful when we now import our model into a Game Engine like Unity or Armory3D as we can use a simple script to read the player or model current xyz and convert it into a Global Decimal Degree which can be linked out into all mapping systems, Smart Phones and everything Geolocatable thus creating the link between Virtual World and Real World.

This New XYZ can also become an Assets Identifier.

Ok but I have a non Geolocated model, How can I merge this into the GeoSpaced Game.

Idealy you would have GNSS Equipment Like SPECTRA SP20 GNSS Device for BIM or one of their other High Accuracy units but if you are at home, you could use a web map to derive a Rough location (still might be better than your phone) Google Maps (Left Double click Location to drop a pin, Click on the decimal degree output at the bottom pop up, Copy and paste from the left hand sidebar)  or Bing Maps (Right click location, select copy below the decimal degree co-ordinates, pres CTRL + C)

Put these co-ordinates in the Transform Tool Decimal Degrees section at Ordnance Survey (If using maps, you will only get Lat and Long without a height value, set Elipsoid Height to 45.734 to pin on the ground at 0m height) which will give you an easting and Northing.

Ok This is your reference position. We can simply enter them in the Global Transform Component (Object Mode) after setting the Local Median (Edit Mode) to the location of the object that is to locate at that geolocation.

If not using Blender, then at worst case to apply your vertex points we need them in a spreadsheet for editing.

Open the OBJ file in Notepad (rightclick -> open with other apps -> select notepad)

We need to copy all lines beginning with a ‘v’ and there might be a few thousand. Each line has six values, position x,y,z and colour x,y,z(the colour is ranged from 0-1).

Select the first line and scroll to the end of the ‘v’ lines and hold shift and click at the end of the last line which will select everything inbetween.

Open your spreadsheet editor and paste. You need to chop and divide the text into seperate columns, there are lots of youtube videos on how to do this, and you can use the space to identify the place to seperate.

Once you have seperated the values into seperate cells, write a formula to add the reference easting to the first value, reference northing to the second value and reference height to the third value. Then copy cell all the way down for it to autopopulate the new figures.

Now concatenate (join) the values back into one single line of text with the spacings and colours added back in. Again lots of youtube videos on how to do this.

Copy the new data into the OBJ notepad file replacing the old ‘v’ values and save as a new OBJ. If the file extension is not available, select saveAs, type the filename followed by ‘.obj’ without the quotes.

now this obj will open in its new geolocation in eastings and northings, sorry I mean XYZ, co-ordinates.

Just to conclude that now we can write a script that tracks the xyz of anything we require to track either its movement in the virtual or even be effected by the movement of something in the real world to give a truly real time virtual simulator.

Imagine if a bridge was raised prematurely, you could not only see a visualisation of what is happening but also use AI to aleviate the problems as it can read and control the virtual easier than the Real but with full control of the Real by Proxy.

VIRTUAL WORLD IS POSSIBLE EASILY, CHEAPLY AND RELIABLY

NOW!!!!

Please Share and Like as I do not have a virtual Billboard, That will be the next big thing, Immersive Advertising – I can Hear George Carling now.

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