Geo Week News

October 5, 2010

Optech breaks 1m/sec barrier

Optech breaks 1m/sec barrier - Image 1

With new Lynx Mobile Mapper M1, can you ‘drive once instead of twice’?

TORONTO—With the launch of the new Lynx Mobile Mapper M1, announced Sept. 28, 2010, Optech has accomplished something that’s long been a goal of president Don Carswell: the ability to collect one million points per second.

“It’s something he’s always wanted,” said Wayne Szameitat, international sales manager at Optech. “He takes this pretty personally.”

Using two lidar sensors operating at 500 kHz each, the Lynx M1 represents a 150-percent speed improvement over the company’s previously fastest mobile scanning device, which topped out at 400,000 points per second (200,000 points per sensor). With accuracy better than 10 millimeters, and the aforementioned speed, Szameitat said if you boil the benefits of the new scanner to the simplest terms: “You can drive once instead of twice.”

Szameitat believes that greater collection density will enable faster job completion, and this will drive new business opportunities – better documentation of thin power lines, for example, or capturing small roadside sign inventories. Creative service providers and end users will figure out how best to use this new level of detail, says Szameitat.

Gordon Perry, senior project manager at Surveying and Mapping Inc., Austin, Texas (aka SAM Inc.) has some reservations — SAM purchased an earlier generation Lynx, a year ago. “I’m not sure that we as an end user need to be at a million points per second,” Perry said. “We’re quite happy with 400,000 points per second. And we’re producing some really great products for clients with that.”

Even if SAM were in the market for a new Lynx, Perry said he’d have concerns with collecting, moving, and storing that much data. “Right now we’re out collecting a terabyte a day,” he said. “Now it’s going to be two-plus per day. The logistics of moving that kind of data has some pretty significant impact. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to get more data, I’d just say that we as a company would have to weigh that out … We run a 250-terabyte network right now, and we’re already always bumping our head on space.”

One thing the extra points might do, however, is extend the range of the scanner’s viability, Perry said. As you’re driving down the highway, he said, “the density of data is greatest along that drive line … the data on either side of the vehicle, it’s phenomenal. You’re getting 8,000 points per square meter.” But, 50 feet from the truck is maybe 1,500 points per square meter. At 100 feet it’s below a thousand. At a couple hundred feet it’s in the hundreds.

Thus, “if you’re trying to hit a curb, the density of that data might not support you being able to draw that break line.” With a million points to start with, instead of 400,000, “your density is going to pick up,” Perry said. “Is it going to reduce the number of drive lines?” He’s not sure. “It would take a lot of passes and testing before we’d be comfortable” changing current best practices, he said. Still, the allure of a million points per second is admittedly “cool,” Perry said. “If we were buying a new system today, that might be really important to us.”

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