We’ve had a very busy first quarter with many road trips and demonstrations of technology. I continue to remain very excited with respect to small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS or drone) technology. Applied to the right sort of problem, this is a real game changer.
We just attended the SPAR conference in Houston last week. SPAR is a conference with a primary focus on tripod (static) laser scanning and secondary foci on mobile laser scanning and an emerging section on sUAS technologies. The conference was attended by perhaps 1,000 folks. We were exhibiting as AirGon in the UAS section of the exhibit hall. If you are involved in building information management (BIM), this is a must-attend conference.
I made an interesting observation regarding the emergence of sUAS technology for mine site mapping. It reminds me a lot of the years when tripod laser scanning was emerging and replacing total station surveys in brown field as-built documentation projects. sUAS mapping is the logical choice for volumetric mapping at mine sites. While it has some disadvantages, its pluses put it ahead of any other technique for this sort of application. For the first time, I encountered service providers who are using other approaches to solve this problem. Many of those who are using tripod scanning for volumetrics feel threatened by this newly emerging technology. Who can blame them? If I had just invested 80K in a laser scanner for volumetrics and then observed a technology much more suited to the task, I would be defensive as well! Thus I am seeing end-users (e.g. mine owners) as the parties most embracing of sUAS mapping with service providers being drug into the space by their customers. This is, ironically, not unlike the situation when tripod laser scanning was emerging. Service providers had big investments in total stations and had no burning desire to have to invest in a new technology.
We are changing our newsletter a bit with this issue. We will now be hosting information such as our tool tips and how-to articles in our new GeoCue Group knowledge base. We will put a lead-in sentence in this newsletter that will link you to the knowledge base article. This will be a real benefit as time goes on. The Knowledge Base includes a robust search capability and consolidates all of this rich information in one spot. This means that if you need to review our extensive past article on breaklines, you can simply search the knowledge base rather than digging through the newsletter archive. We are gradually moving all of the past technical articles over to the knowledge base.
We continue to focus a lot of our development efforts on LP360. These developments range from ease of use to advanced methods for creating the toes of stockpiles for volumetric analysis. In addition, we have been tuning our display subsystem to increase window refresh times and reduce our memory footprint. Finally, we are adding (to the Standard level) a new point cloud task for cleaning up areas where batch ground classification did not quite do the job. We will be posting an “Experimental” release of LP360 within the next several weeks that provides initial versions of these features.
Thanks very much for being a GeoCue Group customer or an interested observer! See you in May.