Thursday, July 28, 2016

Throw Back Thursday

For our first "Throw Back Thursday" post, we go all the way back to 2010 with the Dick Henderson Bridge project in St. Albans, WV.  It was our first Mobile LiDAR collection from the water.

Our client already had a barge on-site to support inspection and other activities.  Therefore, we were able to simply drive the vehicle onto the barge and collect the underside of the bridge in a matter of a couple hours.  Using painted survey targets on the bridge, we seamlessly merged the data from the barge with data collected on the bridge.  In a previous post titled "West Virginia - Preliminary Information", the trajectories from the two collections are presented.

The data was utilized to help develop design alternatives for public consumption.  They can be viewed on the West Virginia Department of Transportation website.  Furthermore, the information aided in the development of a demolition plan, including a controlled blast.

As mentioned in Tuesday's post, it is rewarding to see the completed projects.  The bridge officially reopened in October 2013, as covered by the Charleston Gazette Mail.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Picture of the Week

My friends and coworkers know that when I travel with my family, I prefer to drive rather than fly.  It’s not that my wife doesn’t know how to pack/dress to go through security smoothly.  It’s because I love to see new places and stop at roadside attractions.  We ultimately endeavor to visit all 50 states together.

A trip last week to Traverse City, MI for the MAPPS Summer conference afforded the opportunity to put more miles on the family car.  While I don’t necessarily route our trajectory through past Mobile LiDAR projects, we almost always hit one or two along the way.  Although many of the projects have long been collected, processed and delivered, the remnants (targets) are still visible – every 500’ – 1,000’.  

The white chevron target of a past Michael Baker Mobile LiDAR project is visible in the shoulder. 
The spacing of Mobile LiDAR targets makes them easy to spot - add a painted number and the marking's purpose is undeniable.  The most rewarding part is not the evidence of targets, but new travel lanes, resurfaced road or other infrastructure improvements which were the basis of our work.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Pictures of the Week

Recently, we had the pleasure of performing a unique elevated rail collection.  To capture the rail corridor, our system was installed on the clients' Hi-Rail equipped Kubota side-by-side.

The Kubota provided an ideal platform to perform the collection.  The beautiful, clear blue skies yielded exceptional photographs - which were delivered in an online Orbit publication.

Above, the operator monitors the collection, examining real-time imagery, point cloud data and positional metrics. The driver had it easy with no traffic or steering to contend with.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

As we celebrate our nation’s independence this Fourth of July, we encourage you to reflect on the diversity of peoples, beliefs, cultures, traditions, and histories that have come together to make this great country. Enjoy your time with friends and family and have a safe and responsible Fourth!

The Mobile LiDAR Team

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Back in the Saddle

It’s not very common that I, or the rest of the LiDAR Center’s management team for that matter, get the opportunity to physically sit in the driver’s seat and be part of the daily logistics train. But as luck would have it, on two such occasions over the past year I’ve had the opportunity to road trip with a Mobile LiDAR system.

Operating 4 Mobile LiDAR units (see Launching a Fleet) gives us the ability to be in many more places than ever before, but that’s only possible if there are LiDAR technicians available to transition the units from project to project. Even the most dedicated staff need a couple days off between long deployments; so needless to say, these trips were born out of necessity.

It’s been a little over 8 years since I’ve had the opportunity to do any field work, but it didn’t take long to get right back into the swing of things. Logistical efficiency is the name of the game. The more efficiently we perform on the work site and move between projects, the more projects we complete each deployment cycle, and the more cost savings we pass along to our clients. Think of it as “Just in Time” surveying.

Often overlooked and frequently taken for granted are the intricacies associated with the transition of field equipment/personnel between projects. The majority of people give no more consideration to a mobilization event than the time it takes to briefly consider the 1-2 day line-item on a project’s Gantt chart. In reality it’s a well-choreographed ballet of driver swaps, pit-stops, bio-breaks, traffic avoidance, and ad-hoc photo-ops.

Mobilizations are all about time-management. More aptly, it’s all about minimizing the loss of time. Speed limits and known construction sites establish the baseline for maneuvering from A-to-B. Accidents, thunderstorms, low overhead clearances, impromptu parades, flat tires, ice fog, volcanic events, presidential motorcades, and the occasional late night burrito lurk beyond every bend in the road looking for the opportunity to delay your arrival (and yes, I’ve encountered all of these, and many more in my day).

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that the drivers’ job is just a mindless exercise of maintaining 10-and-2 on the wheel and keeping it between the lines. Every delay, regardless of severity, and every spotted mile-marker evokes a seemingly-constant mental recalibration of the projected arrival time and the logistical changes that need to be coordinated.

Each and every time the vehicle stops you lengthen the amount of time you’ll be on the road that day. And with a 3-foot tall set of equipment strapped to the roof, there’s no options for the driver-thru. So each trip quickly reverts to a game of “how long can I wait”.

  • Can the radio go loud-enough to drown-out the incessant squeaking/rattling coming from the toolbox that vibrated loose? 
  • Will the fumes in the tank get me to the travel plaza at the next exit that has a deli and a Dunkin Donuts, or do I pull over now at Mr. Bob’s Country Gulp-n-Guzzle with the slowest pumps known to man? 
  • Can I make it to the in-and-out convenience of the Rest Stop, and what are the chances it’s closed due to budgetary cutbacks?
My hat’s off to the unsung heroes of the road trip. It was a great refresher on how much I appreciate our amazing team of operators.

LiDAR Services Director