Laser Scanning; an Update

In a 2017 blog we provided some examples of the work that our friends at Horizon Naval Architects have been doing.

Time has marched on, and 5 years later there is now even more sophisticated technology.

Quite near our office Greg Gomes of Skyvue is plying his trade as a remote control aircraft specialist, drone pilot, and aerial photographer and laser scanner.

Greg has a wide variety of drones for different purposes, but his most powerful drone is a New Jersey built Camflite drone that is capable of keeping a LIDAR scanner aloft for 30 minutes.

A 30 minute flight scans a lot of stuff.

As disaster engineers we like the potential of laser scanning stuff from the air.

Too often we can’t quite get to the disaster and as long as it is not raining and the wind does not exceed 25 mph, a laser scan is the best approach to getting situational awareness and amazingly the creation of a point cloud after the scan that us engineers can use to start getting meaningful measures is no more than a one hour process and generally much shorter.

Greg’s LIDAR also works in SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) mode. This is a function where you take the unit and simply walk through the interior of a GPS denied environment and built a point cloud.

So, imagine walking into the interior of a vessel and build a point cloud of the interior.

I have used the term pointcloud and to engineers this is the central datafile from which engineers can extract data. In formal settings this would be used to make drawings of the scanned object, but in disaster data collection, more often than not, dimensions between points are needed and the pointcloud does not need to be postprocessed to get those dimensions. Instead, the ULCC sized load of scan measurement can be displayed and selected by the engineers in their own point cloud visualizer/manager, where dimensions between points can be extracted in the field with a laptop or even a smartphone.

Greg ran a little demo at our office for the staff and with these pictures we are showing off a little since it shows the office, one of our cars charging and the solar panels on the roof.




Using the point cloud processor we can measure the solar panel area (of which I have no record) and use it to figure out if it will sustain our fleet of electric cars.

All of this is done from the ground without the need to even see the solar panels from the ground.

I can think back on a number of cases in the past where a drone scan would have provided reliable insights into thorny problems. While rarer today, we are still very occasionally asked to perform a speed and angle of blow survey in a collision. Boy, it would be fun to do a quick drone scan, 3D print the collision surfaces and to see how they fit together.

Since this type of scanning is so inexpensive and quick, it can often be less expensive than some complex study. We recently used it to scan a barge in one location and to scan the location where it was to be used to make sure it could actually fit. The whole process was no more than a day’s work.

Greg’s gear does not invalidate the use of static laser scanning which is superior when high surface accuracies are required. Instead, Greg’s gear allows us to get a ton of data very quickly and allows us to apply it in solution development in near real time.

Meanwhile drones can just be fun, like this Bayonne drydock video Greg made recently of their Travellift construction.

SkyVue Global Container Terminal shot