2007 3D Laser Scanner Hardware and Software Survey

Many land surveyors know how to choose the right tool for the right job, often dictated by accuracy and efficiency needs. These days, there are a variety of measuring instrument options available, including levels, fully robotic total stations and 3D laser scanners. As new technology develops and becomes available on these measuring devices, it is important to understand the capabilities and limitations; this assessment will help in choosing the right tool.

Much like GPS in the early 1990s, laser scanners are becoming more and more popular. Many companies are trying to decide if they should take a leap into the world of acquiring detailed 3D data; that is, if scanners are the right tool for the job. Laser scanners offer an entirely different way of collecting existing condition data from other conventional tools. A scanner’s methods of data collection are especially attractive to potential users because they offer additional safety protection for field personnel since they can be used from a distance. Safety offered by laser scanners is also a key advantage where measurements of sites that are not easily accessible are needed. On high-rise building sites, for example, laser scanners are capable of completing a survey safely from the ground. Laser scanners have been widely adopted in the transportation industry as the best method for accurately creating topographic surveys without closing traffic lanes or placing field crews in the line of traffic. At the same time, they are capable of gathering more data than previously possible through other methods.

The nature of a scanner’s point cloud data allows for companies to find new markets to serve. The rich 3D visualization allows clients to see sites or facilities on their computers without leaving the office. Some manufacturers are even making it possible to share point cloud data over the Internet to allow more collaboration for clients that need assets scanned.

Laser scanners also make sites that were previously very labor intensive to survey--such as industrial factories, power facilities and refineries--more manageable. Using the appropriate scanner for a geometrical complex site can keep a project under budget and can help clients reduce rework and construction costs.

New scanner technology is being developed at a rate consistent with Moore’s Law. About every two years, manufacturers reveal new products that are faster, smaller and have more capabilities. Some exciting advances that have recently occurred include integrated true-color visualization that allow for better viewing of the point cloud data; scanner orientation and position sensors, including inclination sensors, dual-axis compensators and integrated GPS time stamping; and increased compatibility with other surveying techniques. Emerging technologies include dynamic scanning, where terrestrial laser scanners capture data from a moving platform.

POB’s exclusive annual 3D Laser Scanner Hardware and Software Surveys provide users with an opportunity to compare scanning products side by side to see which of those on the market are best-fits for a company’s needs. This year, POB has updated the survey to a new searchable, user-friendly online format. As part of our efforts to provide superior information for our readers/online visitors, we are enhancing all of POB’s product surveys through this multimedia venue. The specifications highlighted in the survey will allow you to gain a better understanding of a company’s laser scanner hardware and software features and abilities. Manufacturers will update their product information in POB’s surveys as needed to keep you updated on new and enhanced products. Click to2007 3D Laser Scanner Hardware and Software Surveytoday to search and compare the manufacturers offerings, and to choose the right tool for your job.

Content provided by Mitchell Wimbush, PS.