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Study Leads Agency to Purchase Scanners in California

Mon September 01, 2008 - West Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

For the third time in eight months, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) turned to Leica Geosystems to fulfill its 3D imaging needs and purchased the Leica ScanStation 2 high-definition laser scanner. The recent purchase not only extends its Leica-only laser scanning family to three, it will provide a significant dose of survey detail to Caltrans 110 field crews working throughout the state.

Surveying the Field

Caltrans first purchased two Leica ScanStation 2 instruments after conducting a study in conjunction with the Advanced Highway Maintenance and Construction Technology Research Center at the University of California Davis that aimed to develop standards for using laser scanning technology in Caltrans survey applications. The research project tested the features and abilities of four laser-scanning vendors’ technology during critical transport survey scenarios such as long-range surveys of dark asphalt and bridge spans.

“We have had some experience with laser scanning in the past and knew that it would be very beneficial for our work, but first we needed to have a solid idea of how the technology would perform under specific conditions,” said Kevin Akin, a licensed surveyor and senior transportation surveyor with Caltrans’ Office of Land Surveying. “There has been little research done in the transportation field for laser scanning. We conducted our own research to develop a foundation for wide-scale adoption of laser scanning in Caltrans operations. We put several laser scanners through their paces to see how they would perform under our field conditions — particularly in high heat conditions over 100 degrees.”

According to Akin, the Leica ScanStation 2’s 270-degree vertical field of view helped sell Caltrans on the technology.

“The larger vertical field of view with Leica’s scanner was one of the deciding factors for purchasing it,” said Akin. “With that degree of view we can collect areas directly above the scanner like the under deck of a bridge or over ground utility lines.”

Sweating the Details

As Caltrans manages more than 45,000 mi. (72,400 km) of California freeway and highway lanes, efficient, accurate and productive technology is paramount to the field crews’ abilities to ensure more than 30 million residents move from A to B quickly and safely.

“One of the most significant benefits of the Leica laser scanning technology is the ability to capture a level of detail we haven’t been able to collect before,” said Akin. “That increased detail will benefit everyone during the planning, construction, and maintenance cycle. The ability to represent reality with point cloud data should allow everyone to make better decisions and communicate more effectively.”

Michael Harvey, Leica Geosystems’ product marketing manager for scanning, said the Leica ScanStation 2 units serve as a more cost-effective and safe approach to capturing critical, better detail.

“The remote scanning features of the Leica ScanStation 2 will keep the survey crews out of traffic, improving their safety and eliminating the need for road closures and its scanning speed will provide highly accurate, detailed as-built models in less time and cost relative to present survey methods. When it’s 108 degrees outside, you want to be able to lessen crews’ field time as much as possible.”

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