Mobile mapping is rapidly developing as a preferred method to collect data to generate high-accuracy 3D models and record asset inventories without putting field crews in hazardous situations. It is faster than traditional surveying and allows for multiple sensors to be calibrated and georeferenced to simultaneously document features, capture width, height and length measurements, and record other types of data while driving at normal speeds.

Typical mobile mapping systems include a variety of devices, including video and digital cameras, LiDAR and radar scanners, and infrared thermal sensors.

“Mobile mapping is a very good option for a number of markets that need to collect dense point clouds and generate accurate 3D models on a regular basis in a safe manner,” said Mauricio Jaimes, GIS business development manager at Leica Geosystems. “The ability to collect millions of points has many benefits for end users. They are able to make decisions based on more current and more detailed information, which is why mobile mapping is gaining in popularity.”

Leica Geosystems, part of Hexagon AB, recently announced the Pegasus:One, its first foray into the mobile mapping market. Pegasus:One combines integrated hardware and software into an all-in-one mobile mapping system. Most of the components come from Hexagon companies, such as an IMU from NovAtel, an HDS 7000 LiDAR scanner from Leica, and ArcGDS, a 3D visualization software developed by Geosoft, a recent Leica acquisition.

“Offering a mobile mapping system is very much in line with Hexagon’s line of solutions,” said Jaimes. “Rather than rush to release a new product, we have been accumulating the right pieces over the past few years to produce the most effective and flexible system that we could.”

The Leica Pegasus:One has several interesting features. The system is not attached to a dedicated vehicle and can be installed on any car, SUV, ATV or boat, and the IMU does not have export restrictions so it can be transported anywhere in the world. For added flexibility, the system allows the buyer to use a different terrestrial scanner if they already have one, such as the Leica ScanStation P20, and the rest of the system will work with that scanner.

The buyer may also choose to purchase the digital cameras without the scanner. By applying photogrammetric techniques, the digital images can be used to build 3D models. The complete Leica Pegasus:One package is capable of delivering data with an absolute accuracy of 2 centimeters and a relative accuracy of 2 millimeters to meet engineering-grade specifications.

The Leica Zeno GIS workflow series is an existing software portfolio developed over the past several years that complements the Pegasus:One data collection and visualization tools. When used with ArcGDS, Zeno allows users to maximize the value of their GIS data in areas such as managing and maintaining assets, inspecting infrastructure, exploring natural resources and creating as-built maps.

Two applications in particular are driving demand in the transportation market for mobile mapping: asset management and driver-assistance technology.

State and local Departments of Transportation are increasingly expected to document and monitor every asset on their roadways to meet federal mandates, increase road efficiency and improve safety. The benefits range from protecting the environment to saving lives. Driver-assistance technologies are being developed by researchers to also improve road safety by providing computer assistance with braking, steering, parking assistance, collision avoidance and other things. With access to very accurate road and sign data, the car’s computer could sense if the car was leaving the road or alert the driver to exceeding the speed limit. Other potential markets include electric utilities, oil and gas companies, mining companies, engineering firms and the military.

“Our goal with the Pegasus:One is to improve productivity by offering a system that has integrated parts that work seamlessly together, but also (to) offer options that allow for customization,” said Jaimes. “The most important thing is to produce information that is useful to many people and departments so that the value is multiplied throughout the organization. Leica wants collecting data to be user-friendly, and we provide an open solution to facilitate data collection and sharing.”