Modeling the Past

November 27, 2006
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The bronze surveyor statue located in Fort Mill, S.C., represents planning for the future; the inset scan of the statue demonstrates what surveyors can accomplish today using modern technology.


While passing through Fort Mill, S.C., I noticed an intriguing statue in the park beside one of the offices of Springs Global, a textile manufacturer originally founded as Fort Mill Manufacturing Company in 1887. In 1914, Leroy Springs assumed ownership of the company, which has since grown to become the world's largest manufacturer and supplier of home furnishings.

In 1996, Springs Global commissioned seven sculptures by Bruno Lucchesi, an Italian-born American artist, to symbolize "The Springs of Achievement," an event to commemorate the company's excellence since its origin. Each statue symbolizes one of seven tenets embodied by the company: quality, service, creativity, education, planning for the future, respect for history, and personal and family well-being.

In the Fort Mill park, planning for the future is represented by a bronze statue of a surveyor looking through his level toward a statue of a rodman standing across the park.

As I stood before the sculpture, I thought about the future and where we as surveyors are heading. I went back to my office and loaded my Leica Geosystems (San Ramon, Calif.) HDS3000 scanner into the truck. I then headed back to the park to begin a scan of the statue. Using the unit from four different positions, I scanned the statue. This was a fairly simple project, involving four sets of control points placed around the statue that could easily be seen in each scan. The control points were then used to register the four point clouds together. Subsequently, a cloud-to-cloud registration was done to tighten up the scan data. The registration process was completed using Leica Geosystems' Cyclone software version 5.4, and the data was then cleared of any outlying data points that were not applicable for the scan of the statue.

Without the work of surveyors, planning for the future would have been difficult. Finding this statue provided me with a perfect opportunity to use modern technology to create a representation of what we see as the past. Years ago, the thought of being able to collect millions of points in a matter of hours would not have been fathomable. However, in the 21st century, collecting millions of points in a short amount of time is possible and occurs on a daily basis. With the advent of the 3D laser scanner, our jobs as surveyors have been simplified. With little time and planning, we can now create life-like point clouds that represent objects in a virtual world.

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