Monday, January 25, 2016

Direction of our "Light"

No longer only a tool for science, landform mapping and Geomatics Engineering, we have expanded our LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) usage by further analyzing, managing and manipulating the LiDAR data sets across a host of practical applications. This understanding of how to fully utilize and interact with LiDAR data is allowing us to design and create structures and systems – notably in the building, infrastructure and in situ environments – that are safer and more resilient.

But what’s fascinating is that we are still just beginning to achieve LiDAR’s potential for information gathering and usage. One emerging market that Michael Baker is focusing on is in enabling autonomous vehicles while building safer, smarter, real-time information systems within our transportation networks. The impact and applications for this type of ubiquitous, low-cost form of mass-produced LiDAR technology associated with automotive, rail, airborne, marine and other vehicles can change the way the world moves people and things.

What you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) with Mobile LiDAR.  Completely immersive scenes are generated along transportation corridors for an array of applications.
The LiDAR data we collect at Michael Baker is of a very precise and dense variety. We apply LiDAR to the purpose of very selective illumination of phenomena in the line-of-sight of our sensor systems. We are selective in where and how we deploy our systems and we carefully plan collections. We primarily direct our LiDAR sensors at our customers’ infrastructure or assets for the comprehensive collection of a point cloud that will be analyzed to extract very specific information. Combined with the acquisition of panoramic and other imagery, our LiDAR and imagery data becomes quite massive in terms of the individual artifacts of data created within the collection process. Now we’re developing methods and algorithms that interact directly with these point clouds to perform conformity analysis with design standards and to analyze stress and perhaps load forecasting on infrastructure. This is the way we can extend the potential for that infrastructure though effective operation and maintenance practices, as well as predict the infrastructure’s ability to bear existing or additional demand loads.

Critical infrastructure is accurately mapped with application of sound surveying principles.  
With our Mobile LiDAR capabilities a single vehicle has the potential to collect in excess of a terabyte of data each day. Billions of LiDAR shots are recorded, tens of millions of photographs are taken and hundreds of thousands of individual LiDAR-based files are generated in a relatively short time period as part of the overall process of creating LiDAR deliverables for a typical project. We currently operate four extraordinarily hi-tech Mobile LiDAR systems, running a collective 800 days per year. We annually collect LiDAR to create more than a petabyte of raw engineering quality data to produce discrete, extracted information about specific infrastructure, assets or ecosystems. After collection, we may double the amount of data we produce and manage for the deliverables we derive from the raw LiDAR or images. Accurately and cost-effectively creating and managing such information is a constant challenge for a large scale LiDAR operation such as ours.

The laser sensors we employ are generally indiscriminate when collecting data. A pulse is emitted and returned. We collect everything in the line-of-sight potential of our eye-safe lasers with great precision. Then we analyze the aggregation of billions of LiDAR points within a dataset to determine any phenomena and its relevancy to an intended purpose.

The use of highly detailed Mobile LiDAR datasets provide the mechanism for feature extraction and attribution when used in conjunction with 360° spherical photography.
As we continue to find new data to mine and explore all of the possibilities that LiDAR technology affords the transportation industry, it’s exciting to ponder the industry’s evolution and what the future looks like.

I invite you to join me at the 2016 MAPPS Winter Conference for a presentation titled: “Big Data or Data That’s Big? The Pervasiveness of LiDAR in the Approaches to Engineering” as I am further addressing these topics and how we are managing data. And, continue to follow this blog for future insights.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Picture of the Week: Phoenix Rising

After almost 6 years of service (and new transmission), our Suburban has found new life, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.  It looks like a brand new vehicle with the original wrap removed and new wrap installed.  Our fleet is going to continue to sport matching red, white and blue designs. Now, all it needs is a system installed.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Article: Lowering the Barrier to Entry Does Not Eliminate the Requirement for Professionals

We’re not a one-trick pony, and we’re not terrestrially-bound.  Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) represent the newest, low-cost acquisition platform – but low-cost doesn’t give license for lack of professional responsibility.   Continuing our contributions to your reading pleasure, check out another recent article authored by our own Eric Andelin that was published in the May edition of LiDAR News Magazine


Friday, June 19, 2015

Pictures of the Week

Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate the Open House of Michael Baker International's new office location in Dallas, TX.  Thankfully, the weather cooperated and we were able to show off one of our systems.

Pictured (from left to right) are Michael Baker International employees Cooper Liebau, June Garcia, Rocky Armendariz and Gene Valentine.

Also in attendance and inspecting the system, were our Chief Operating Officer Jeff Hill (right) and Senior Vice President/Gulf Coast Region Director Bill Macon (left).  

Although our Mobile LiDAR team and equipment may reside in only a handful of offices across our organization, we are all one Michael Baker International.  We welcome the opportunity to come out in support of our colleagues elsewhere.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Article: LiDAR Fusion for Impervious Surface Mapping

With the deployment of our 2 brand new Lynx SG1 systems, the past month has been admittedly hectic.  Although we haven’t had much time lately to post new material to the Blog, our team continues to contribute to the profession through other media outlets.

Check out a recent article published in the May edition of LiDAR News Magazine that was authored by our own Dr. Srinivasan Dharmapuri and Aaron Morris.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Dallas Open House

Come join us in Dallas, TX on Thursday, June 18th for an Open House at our new office.  Hopefully the weather cooperates and we're able to fully display one of our Mobile LiDAR units!

For directions or to RSVP, contact Robin as indicated in the postcard.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Picture(s) of the Week

I was waiting to post this, but it's making the rounds on other social media sites and within Michael Baker International.  Also, there can't be a better day than our 75th Anniversary Celebration to show this off!

With the acquisition of another Mobile LiDAR system, we have deployed our combined approach to Mapping the Nation's Infrastructure.  The vehicle utilizes the Optech Lynx SG1 Mobile LiDAR system, Pavemetrics Laser Crack Measurement System (LCMS) and GSSI RoadScan Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) systems for a combined approach.

Another modification includes the mounting of 3 of the Lynx 5-mega pixel cameras forward of the systems to capture forward facing frame imagery - while also deploying the Ladybug 5 spherical camera.


Celebrating 75 Years

Today kicks of our 75th Anniversary Celebration at Michael Baker International.  If you look closely, our legacy Mobile LiDAR system made it onto the photo (middle, left of center).  Given the Signature Projects we've performed and the outstanding employees we have across our organization, it's an honor to be represented.

You can look at some of Michael Baker's history presented in past posts at:


Monday, April 27, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Mobile LiDAR Operator - Introduction

Within the Mobile LiDAR profession we sometimes have to step back and reassess our assumptions of our audience’s understanding of the technology. Since we work with it every day, it’s easy forget that even after nearly 6 years of mainstream use, most people have no idea what the equipment is, nor how it works. Frankly, it’s not too surprising to me, because before I started with Baker a year ago, I was in with the majority of the population – no idea this amazing technology was in use, let alone having an industry pioneer right here in my home State of Mississippi.

Mobile LiDAR Vehicle in Utah
The view from the passenger seat of our legacy Mobile LiDAR unit while in Utah.
As a Michael Baker Mobile LiDAR operator I came to realize fairly early in my career that this is not an ordinary job. I have driven all across this beautiful country - from coast to coast, and points in between. Some of you are probably thinking that all that driving has to be sheer torture - but I actually enjoy it. I see it as a prime opportunity to travel this great country. I get to see new places, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that I get paid to do it.

If you’re a follower of Michael Baker’s various Mobile LiDAR social media sites, you've already seen some of my travels on Instagram. Now that I've got my first blog posting under my belt, I’m going to take this opportunity and run with it. I’m working on an upcoming series of posts in which I hope to share with you aspects of a day in the life of a Mobile LiDAR operator. I think it’s worthy to dispel some of the misconceptions about what we do - because after all, we don’t just “push a button and drive”.


Clark Jackson is a lead operator with Michael Baker International's Mobile LiDAR team.  He joined Baker in 2014 after earning a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering Technology from Mississippi State University. Clark will be providing further postings from the operator's perspective and sharing insights on his roles and responsibilities.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions: Updated

Yesterday started a week of updates, in more ways than one.  Currently, we have Optech in our office to finalize the upgrade and installation of our systems.  With this, I've taken the opportunity to revisit the Frequently Asked Questions part of the new Mobile LiDAR website - you might have also noticed the change in our domain name.

The questions and answers have been updated to reflect the change in our systems, their capabilities and slight variations between the units.  Additionally, I've embedded links into questions that have been addressed in the more than 100 postings that have been prepared over the past 5 years.

If you have a Mobile LiDAR related question, feel free to post a comment or use the Contact Us page to send me an email.