Prof. Dr. Dr.hc.mul Friedrich Ackermann is described by his colleagues at Trimble as a scientist, mentor and valued colleague. Ackermann is the founder of Inpho software, a key component of Trimble Geospatial Imaging solutions for digital photogrammetry.
On the occasion of his 90th birthday, Nov. 1, 2019, Trimble recognized Professor Dr. Friedrich Ackermann for his achievements and contributions in defining and advancing the fields of photogrammetry and image analysis. In honoring him, Trimble noted, “Prof. Ackermann’s work is the foundation for significant increases in accuracy and efficiency in photogrammetry. His name is rightfully included as one of the legendary contributors in modeling and estimation: Gauss, Mikhail, Ackermann and Kalman.”
Since the 1960s, Prof. Ackermann’s research and leadership have provided the basis for the transition from the historic analog approaches to today’s technologies for automated photogrammetric processes, including digital image processing. The success and expansion of the photogrammetry industry are a result of his ability to transfer his theoretical work into practical applications.
Working with his staff, Ackermann developed pioneering photogrammetry software. He and his colleagues rapidly spread the new concepts around the world. In order to sustain the development effort—and deliver the benefits to commercial users—Ackermann in 1980 founded the company Inpho, which was acquired by Trimble in 2007.
Eager to integrate the potential of new technologies into photogrammetric processes, Prof. Ackermann recognized the value of satellite positioning. He increased the profitability of photogrammetry by using GNSS-aided aerotriangulation to substantially reduce field control and processing time. His research also included projects to incorporate aerial LiDAR data as well as numerous advances in bundle and block adjustments. He supported the work for development and sharing of digital terrain models, including the first national-scale terrain models. Ackermann also pioneered processes for using photogrammetry data in automated terrain.
In addition to his technical prowess, Prof. Ackermann is a respected colleague, teacher and mentor. Known to his associates simply as “Fritz,” his passion for innovation is combined with kindness and respect for those around him. He is valued for his ability to convince, motivate and inspire.
Prof. Ackermann had a significant impact on Bryn Fosburgh, senior vice president at Trimble, who took time to reflect on Ackermann’s contributions. “Many mentors have had a profound effect on my life and Prof. Ackermann is a very influential one. He taught me that all things can be modeled and that there exist both deterministic and stochastic models. Throughout my career, the rigors of the photogrammetric and geodetic models that he taught enabled me to grow in my various professional roles, and I continue to use these skills today.”
Fosburgh added, “As we look back at photogrammetry it seems to have been declared dead as a profession each decade since the fifties, only to be revitalized time and again through breakthroughs in satellite technology, imaging, drones and 3D visualization. I suspect that when Prof. Ackermann sees an image that says ‘powered by Google Earth’ or hears about drone-based mapping, he must smile with that humble smile of his and say, ‘It’s all made possible because of photogrammetry.’”