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DeLorme Launches TopoBird Airborne 3D Data Collection Platform 03.05.2003

March 5, 2003
Leica ADS40 Airborne Digital Sensor and Leica ALS40 Airborne Laser Scanner allow DeLorme to simultaneously capture high quality images and digital elevation data using a unique combination of high-resolution digital imagery and LIDAR.

DeLorme Publishing, a leading innovator in digital mapping and geospatial data collection and distribution, has purchased two powerful airborne sensors from Leica Geosystems – the Leica ADS40 Airborne Digital Sensor and Leica ALS40 Airborne Laser Scanner. The two systems will give DeLorme, a mapping software and navigation hardware provider, the advantage of simultaneously capturing high quality images and digital elevation data using a unique combination of high-resolution digital imagery and LIDAR (light detection and ranging).

The complete airborne platform, named TopoBird, includes a specially equipped twin engine turboprop aircraft that will house the Leica ALS40 and ADS40.

“We see an opportunity to advance the state-of-the-art in geospatial data collection and processing through a highly efficient and thereby cost effective process. We intend to apply this captured data to our consumer and professional product lines,” said David DeLorme, CEO and founder. “These highly synchronized datasets are a critical mass of sub-meter ground truth knowledge, enabling us to automatically extract linear features and structures to build detailed three dimensional models of the major metropolitan areas.”

TopoBird’s 3D multispectral data will be collected as DeLorme conducts flyovers of 10 percent of the surface area (70 percent of the population) of the United States and will be used to augment the data in its consumer and professional products such as Street Atlas USA 2003, Topo USA 4.0, as well as the new XMap 4.0 professional software and data suite. TopoBird is also available for contracted work for other companies along with federal agencies, state, county, and municipal governments.

George Southard, Regional Sales Director (Americas), Leica Geosystems GIS & Mapping, LLC, said, “Leica Geosystems is pleased that DeLorme chose the ADS40 and ALS40 to help strengthen its existing data capture capabilities, which in turn will help enhance the quality of the data in its mapping software suites. As the first company to take advantage of the combined power of the ADS40 and ALS40, DeLorme now has the ability to acquire simultaneously large sets of LIDAR ground surface XYZ coordinate triplets and digital multispectral imagery with the swath width and area coverage of a film camera, saving DeLorme both time and money.”

The ALS40 coordinates are computed using a laser range from the aircraft in combination with position and orientation data derived from airborne GPS and inertial subsystems. The ADS40 sensor produces 12-bit data with three panchromatic views, three color bands, and one near infrared band, exploiting the exciting three-line scanner concept and a number of technological innovations.

The first flight using the two Leica airborne sensors is scheduled to take place in early March 2003. The collective data from TopoBird will be paired with DeLorme’s ground camera systems and will be used to create 3D models suitable for consumer applications as well as a myriad of professional applications for land surveyors, engineers, and landscape architects, among others.