‘Field to Finish’ with Point Clouds

ReCap Pro
Point cloud of a city intersection

‘Field to finish’ is an automated surveying process that enables you to automatically create a digital, intelligent map from field survey data. During conventional ground-based surveys, field codes are often used to define captured survey points (this point is a utility pole, these points are the edge of a street curb, and so on). Products such as AutoCAD Civil 3D have built in features enabling the software to automatically generate linework and symbology from this coded survey data.

But what happens if you’re performing laser scanning instead of conventional ground-based surveys? Are ‘field to finish’ processes using Reality Computing still possible?

The answer is yes and at AU 2015, Shawn Herring from ProSoft demonstrated how.

Herring’s presentation (CI9667, A Whole New “Field to Finish” Using LiDAR Point Clouds) was based on a water main construction project in Billings, Montana. The purpose of the scanning effort was to capture existing conditions around the road where the water main is being installed. He mounted the scanner on the back of a truck and scanned locations every 200 feet or so.

You can watch the complete demonstration*, but here’s a quick summary. Herring began by importing the scans into ReCap and registering them. He then imported the resulting point cloud into Civil 3D and picked out points from the scanned data by snapping to individual features in the point clouds and assigning survey codes—similar to what would have been done by traditional field survey data collectors.

Composite image showing real-time generation of point clouds from laser survey data

The benefit is that the laser field survey takes a lot less time and staff. And by using established field to finish processes in Civil 3D, this efficiency is converted into intelligent 3D project maps. Furthermore, if it is later determined that more features in the project area need mapping, there’s no need to send out another survey crew to the site. Just pull up the point cloud, snap to the new features, assign the appropriate codes, and the new linework is automatically added to the 3D map.

* You will need a login & password to download material from au.autodesk.com, but you can get those for free just by registering at the site.

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