How Image Capturing Is Rewriting The Rules Of Surveying

With advances in image capturing technology in the past few years, Landair Surveys has been seeking to upgrade its aerial surveying equipment to reinforce its position in the surveying industry.

After reviewing several options, the company decided to partner with Leica Geosystems whose RCD30 camera system is mounted on a twin-engine, fixed-wing aircraft and has passed a rigorous testing schedule. The company can now offer advanced aerial surveying solutions to its clients, eg:

  1. It can provide higher quality and more geometrically accurate imagery. In this new configuration, the integrated GPS receiver continuously measures 3D co-ordinates so the absolute location of the camera is determined with a high degree of accuracy at any moment during the flight. Simultaneously, the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) is recording the pitch, yaw and roll of the camera system. This allows surveyors to effectively understand the spatial relationships of the camera to the ground during the flight.
  2. It can reduce impact for a client’s operational team and reduce risk associated with site access issues. The new integrated equipment provides more accurate results and reduces reliance on ground photo control points.
  3. Landair has shortened its processing time. The new equipment is fully integrated with Leica software HxMap, enabling the quicker delivery of CAD plans, volume calculations and ortho-photographs. The images combined with the integrated GPS and IMU allow for very efficient photogrammetric processing.
  4. Landair can provide near infrared imagery for vegetation health analysis. The near infrared band is collected at the same time as the normal colour imagery. This data allows quarry managers and consultants to improve vegetation asset management by measuring environmental stresses such as pollution, water deficiency, nutrient stress and disease on plant health, and to help control vegetation health impacted by floods, drought, bushfires and weeds.

It can now undertake accurate remote quarry face mapping without a ground survey, as the new equipment can capture enough data during the flight to build accurate 3D point clouds of quarries.

Clients ask what the point of aerial surveying is when new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) options seem to do the job fine. Well, based on extensive surveying experience, it is important to choose the right tool for the job. Landair Surveys is a CASA-registered UAV operator and has invested in UAV technology. It is therefore able to provide the most appropriate solution for a quarry site.

For example, for accuracy and reliability of results, UAVs are miles behind. The Leica RCD30 aerial mapping camera is specifically designed for aerial photography. UAV cameras are non-metric consumer grade cameras, with uncalibrated lenses.

The RCD30 has a geometrically calibrated lens with known distortion characteristics and a gyro-stabilised mount, correcting level and drift. UAV camera software propagates lens distortions throughout the data, whereas the Leica software removes camera distortions from the final data, producing more accurate measurements. UAV data requires extensive office processing to extract 3D CAD data and volumes determined from the UAV’s need for careful analysis.

Landair Surveys recently completed a quarry mapping project in the south-west of Victoria in record time. Because of the new onboard technology and advanced software workflow, the company provided very accurate mapping data to the client in an unprecedented time frame – the day after the flight – potentially rewriting the rules of surveying for good.

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