Geo Week News

May 6, 2009

Certainty 3D TopoDOT: Practical Laser Scanning for Transportation Projects

Certainty 3D TopoDOT: Practical Laser Scanning - Image 1

Ted Knaak, president and CEO, Certainty 3D LLC, has been on a mission for the last three years: to make laser scanning work flows cost effective and compelling for transportation projects. TopoDOT, an advanced toolsuite for processing point cloud data and calibrated digital imagery directly in CAD, is the result of his efforts. Knaak reports that TopoDOT clients are achieving 30% schedule reductions compared to traditional survey work flows (GPS/RTK/reflectorless).

The cost? For small projects, say 1/2 mile or less, Knaak says that the cost of field-to-finish deliverables is competitive with traditional methods. For larger projects, deploying 3D laser scanning and processing the data with TopoDOT is less expensive than conventional survey. Field collection times can be reduced by 75%, and because the scanning can be done off the road, data collection is inherently safer. Knaak says using TopoDOT with the newest scanners can get to 80 or 85% compression in field capture schedules.

TopoDOT serves up images calibrated with scan data in Bentley MicroStation (V8, V8 XM and V8i) and is developed on the MDL platform. According to Jim van Rens, one of the owners of Certainty 3D, TopoDOT is seamlessly integrated with GEOPAK and InRoads. The result, according to Knaak, is a better deliverable, too — designers, often impatient or unwilling to wrestle with interpreting point cloud files can interpret the images with ease, giving confidence that the edge of curb, for instance, has been identified and located correctly. This can mean fewer trips to the field. There are also other advantages to having surveyors and designers work from a common data set: less redundant data collection by other contractors, and consequently, less time to resolve the inevitable discrepancies between multiple surveys. In short, TopoDOT provides a visual context for line work and allows all parties to work from a common datum tied back to survey control.

Knaak says TopoDOT is currently in production use at DOT organizations around the United States and that engineering firms are currently testing it. Bechtel’s Joe Betit, survey manager for the Dulles Metrorail Extension Project, reported on his organization’s use of it at the SPAR 2009 conference in Denver earlier this spring. Knaak says Certainty 3D plans for TopoDOT to work with scan data from all manufacturers. In addition to the scan data, the application requires a camera calibration model.

TopoDOT Pricing

The list price for the application is $9750 and annual maintenance, support and upgrades cost 17% of list. Of course, users also need a current MicroStation license.

Who is Certainty 3D LLC?

Certainty 3D was founded by Ted Knaak, known to many of our readers as the founder of Riegl USA. We understand that the majority owners of the new company are Ted Knaak and Jim van Rens. This week, Riegl USA announced that Knaak will serve as chief technical officer of Riegl USA, and Jim van Rens will become Riegl USA’s new president. Van Rens previously served as sales and marketing vice president.

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