Last week’s SPAR 2008 and FSM 2008 conferences in Houston, Texas drew 718 attendees from 21 countries – attendance was up 30.5%. These numbers track the surging demand by organizations involved in design, fabrication, construction and operation of capital assets for new ways to mitigate execution risk using 3D data, and the bounty of new solutions based on laser scanning, LIDAR, high-dynamic-range and gigapixel photography, sonar, GPS and inertial navigation technologies.
Attendees from a welter of professions – the Albuquerque Police Department, Anheuser-Busch, Arizona Public Service, Bechtel, BP, C.H. Fenstermaker, Caltrans, Chevron, Constellation Energy, DuPont, Exelon, Exxon, the FBI, the Federal Highway Administration, Fluor, General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, Mesa Verde National Park, Minnesota DOT, the National Geodetic Survey, the NYPD, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Petro-Canada, Qatar Petroleum, SAIC, StatoilHydro, Toshiba Plant, Toyota, UK Ministry of Defence, US Army, US Army Corps of Engineers, Volkswagen of America, many more – came together in a rich exchange of ideas that was still going on when the conference program adjourned.
3D capture meets Web 2.0
Kevyn Renner, Strategy & Planning Leader, Control & Information Systems, Chevron Global Refining, kicked off SPAR 2008 with a dazzling demonstration of using 3D data capture plus Web 2.0 technology to serve up plant asset information in a virtual-world environment that supports remote collaboration, real-time immersion and expert knowledge capture.
Mobile survey on a tear
Mobile survey was red hot. Chris Urmson (above), technology director for DARPA Urban Challenge winner Tartan Racing at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, gave a riveting keynote on the challenges of autonomous vehicle navigation – integrating multi-sensor data streams and automating real-time decision-making based on this information. Attendees saw the newest from eight leading technology developers and service providers, including two vehicles on site outfitted with the latest technology. In all, ten presentations focused on dynamic 3D data capture – cases documented the value for highway surveys, urban modeling, telecom asset management, coastal surveys and more.
Nuclear power renascence
In addition to the conference’s longstanding track on process, power and offshore/marine applications, this year’s new track on nuclear power was a hotbed of interest. Cases by Exelon, Arizona Public Service and Constellation Energy documented the value of 3D laser scanning and photogrammetry for nuclear operators, while CSA, AREVA and CB&I detailed the latest 3D tools and workflows for refurbishment and plant life extensions as well as new construction.
Alan Lytle, leader of NIST’s Construction Metrology & Automation Group and chair of the ASTM E57 Committee on 3D Imaging Systems, gave a keynote updating attendees on the committee’s work, then led a half-day of presentations and discussion by E57 subcommittee heads. The heavy attendance at this standards track, held on the third day of the conference, testified to the value that practitioners see in the E57 committee’s work to define standard terminology, develop instrument performance evaluation protocols, codify best practices for using the tools, and develop data exchange protocols.
Other conference tracks showed attendees the latest in integrating high-dynamic-range and gigapixel imaging with 3D laser scanning, fusing laser scan and sonar data, managing very large 3D databases, and using 3D data capture to inform transportation infrastructure design, construction and asset management, building information modeling, historic preservation, geotechnical disciplines and more.
FSM 2008, a conference co-located with SPAR 2008, focused on the newest 3D measurement technologies used to fight crime and terrorism and reconstruct accident scenes. This second annual FSM conference, sponsored by the International Association of Forensic & Security Metrology (IAFSM) and organized by Spar Point Research, drew law enforcement, investigative and security professionals from a broad range of government organizations, research institutions, technology developers and service providers from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany, Switzerland and The Netherlands.