Published by RIEGL International – The RIEGL NEWSROOM
October 27, 2020
How an Innovative Australian Survey Firm, Orion Spatial Solutions, Used Euclideon’s “udStream” to Store, Share and Work With Big 3D Data on Three Unique Projects
Orion Spatial Solutions is a survey company based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The company has been using LiDAR on their projects for over 10 years; utilizing the RIEGL VZ-400 and miniVUX scanners for the past five years, and more recently their new VUX-1UAV. Orion has seven ground survey crews providing a range of survey services for public and private clients throughout eastern Australia.
These crews at Orion have been putting RIEGL terrestrial and airborne laser scanners to good use on a wide range of exciting projects! Having embraced innovative technologies for years, they knew they were on to something with potential to fundamentally change workflows when they met with leadership from Euclideon Unlimited 3D.
Managing big files is one of the most frustrating and expensive challenges facing our design and scientific fields today. Our geospatial society is using more and more digital information to perform our work. LiDAR, BIM and imagery are exciting technologies, but if one is not careful, the file sizes become so massive that there is no practical way to share that volume of data with the intended users.
There isn’t an engineer alive using big data who hasn’t had to grapple with questions like “How can I best store all this information economically? Can I easily retrieve it when I need it? How can I get this huge file to my client, who doesn’t have the same computer capacity or programs as me?” And now with the pandemic in play, there is an added challenge for our workflows – it’s difficult to gather team members together physically to go over project details. Solutions are being dreamed up, and our high-tech world is anxious to see these problems addressed so that we can move along to the more satisfying part of the business – serving our clients and meeting their needs.
About Euclideon’s udStream
Euclideon is a 3D software innovation firm that created udStream (Unlimited Detail Stream). This platform allows users worldwide to upload, share and work as a team with big geospatial data, such as LiDAR, BIM, photogrammetry and other detailed information files. udStream provides a highly useful 3D tool for engineers, scientists, planners and public agencies; and addresses all of the problems of storage and sharing big data.
How Does udStream Work? After LiDAR and other visual data has been collected, it can be quickly converted into uds format with udStream. The software accepts any of the industry-standard point cloud formats. Then users can enjoy the fast rendering performance of udStream. In the Orion case studies outlined below, their teams created LAS files through RIEGL’s software suite, and then exported the data directly to udStream. Imagery and other data was uploaded as well.
udStream keeps all the visual aspects of the data – points are not decreased and no data is decimated. Daniel Zhang, Euclideon CEO said, “Our program allows people to choose what they want to see in the data, and omit what they don’t.”
Zhang continued, “File size is no longer as important since udStream hosts the data on the cloud, and web-based storage is getting more affordable every day. There is no limit to how big or detailed the information can be.”
John Philipp, Orion Director and Spatial Solutions Manager said one of the benefits is that the upload function is fast, “We can upload and convert a full day’s LiDAR collection to udStream in about an hour on average.”
The storage default is that the data is hosted on the Cloud, unless the user wishes to store the data on their own server or cloud. Users can also request that Euclideon build in additional security features as needed.
After data is uploaded, it can be shared with other team members or clients via a link that can be emailed. The data can be accessed on any platform: PC or Mac computer, smartphone or tablet.
Zhang said, “In the old days, people had to save big data to a hard drive, and courier or express ship it over to the customer. More recently cloud services became available for sharing files, but often the file was either too big to download, or too slow to be viewed online. udStream gets around these obstacles by streaming point cloud data fast and smoothly without download. Users need no special equipment or software to view the data with team members, simultaneously from multiple locations.” Their free basic package includes features that allow users to perform measurements and calculations, create cross sections, add highlighting with color, contours, annotation, markup, bookmarks, multiple map layers including nautical charts, satellite images, and atmospheric visual effects such as sun position are standard.
On the desktop version, users get added tools for functions like change and/or displacement detection.
Upgrade plans feature industry-specific tools like cross sections at repeating distances along a path, special queries, high quality video export and additional file format support.
Case Study #1 – Mining: A Massive Above- and Beneath-Ground Survey Prior To Expansion
Project Client and Location: Confidential
Date: 2019 – Ongoing
This project involves creating detailed and highly accurate digital maps of a very large, 30 year old underground mining site to prepare for its expansion.
Orion collected LiDAR data of the above-ground area and merged it with the mine’s underground datasets to create one seamless point cloud that can be viewed on Euclideon’s udStream. This platform will help the engineers to visualize the entire mine footprint, above and below, in great detail, in a way not possible before.
Scans and imagery were necessary to accomplish the following:
- Create a detailed surface model from which to begin laying out new expansion plans.
- Show areas where portals and shafts currently exist, with the ability to add to the data sets as new shafts are considered or created.
- Know precise shaft locations to ensure safety above-ground when blasting or moving heavy equipment.
- Map locations of the above-ground infrastructure.
- Map drainage and storm water conditions.
- Map and monitor vegetation.
- Provide a baseline from which to perform change detection analysis.
- Better understand the impacts of various design choices.
Challenges on the Mining Site Project:
- Difficult Site Conditions. Collecting the data was physically demanding for field crews due to the remote location and terrain. Vast flat areas alternated with mountains, rugged canyons and gorges.
- Complex Flight Plans. Detailed flight planning was necessary to map this large area.
- Natural Predators. There were a great number of large eagles with 2.5 m wing spans circling the site.
- Matching and Confirming Coordinates Was Key. Collections above and below ground needed specific coordinates so that the team could pull all the datasets together to view as one project.
- Regulatory Compliance. The team needed to be knowledgeable on any regulations that might affect the performance of their work such as environmental components for status quo or restoration.
- Tight Schedule. This project was a fast track for the initial data capture, with ongoing collections planned.
- Enormous Dataset! Euclideon’s udStream provided the solution to both compress the files, and provide affordable data storage and sharing online.
Data Collection Tools
– RIEGL miniVUX-2UAV unmanned LiDAR scanner mounted on the M600 UAV platform
– Photogrammetry on a Phantom 4 and M600
About the Mining Project This ongoing project would be impossible, or at least prohibitively difficult and expensive to perform without the RIEGL scanners, the UAV’s, and the Euclideon udStream system to help pull it all together in an easily accessible way. John Philipp said, “The mine owners and designers like the fact that they can know precisely what they are dealing with on the site. This gives them the best possible chance to optimize their future expansion and avoid costly or dangerous mistakes.”In addition, the datasets will help them remain in compliance with regulatory agencies.
Field work was definitely the most difficult part of the project. Once the data was collected, it was a much less strenuous time for the team to work with the data from the comfort of their offices.
The initial field work was completed in only three weeks. Orion assigned three ground-based survey crews and an aerial crew. It took one month to perform all the LiDAR processing, and then six weeks for data extraction.
Philipp said, “Traditional survey would have taken more than six months, and the information would be a fraction of what we were able to collect in only sixteen weeks using LiDAR, from start to finish and with incredible precision.”
Orion Case Study #1 – Brisbane Urban Motorway and Tunnel System Project Location: Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Client: Design Teams for Transurban (Owner)
Description: The owner and designer of this active urban toll road and tunnel network have an ongoing need for high accuracy, information-rich 3D datasets. The point clouds can be used for asset inventory, asset management, condition assessments, repair / upgrade / expansion designs, and construction compliance. The transportation network includes 38 km of tunnels (some2-and30lane), and approximately 100 km of multi-lane motorway in Brisbane.
Challenge on the Transurban Project:
-Limited Access. The network operates 24/7. This means Orion must perform most of their scans at low traffic times (middle of the night), or during short maintenance shutdowns, using RIEGL LiDAR scanners and ground survey.
-Physical Obstacles. The system is continuously changing due to maintenance, repairs, upgrades and expansions, so there are a lot of obstacles to work around when performing data collects such as heavy equipment like boom lifts and cranes.
-Getting Location Info in Tunnels. GNSS in the tunnels was a bit of a challenge, so Orion’s team found a solution. Philipp said “The project had a significant amount of GNSS denied areas in the tunnels and portals, so we chose to go with our vehicle mounted, RIEGL VZ-400 scanners and use a stop and-go methodology. This also gave us the most flexibility with the control placement and interface with other work crews.”
–Massive Amounts of Data. This amount of data can be hard to manage, and the Orion team determined that Euclideon’s udStream
would provide an ideal platform to help the design team collaborate with the owner in 3D, and in near-real time.
Data Collection Tools
–RIEGL VZ-400 with Nikon Camera and
GNSS where possible
-Vehicle mounted scanning for stop-and-go collects every 20-30 meters – 10.5 KM in each direction – road and tunnel
About the Transurban Project
Transurban is a large, publicly traded road operator that develops and manages urban user-financed transportation networks primarily in Australia, with other facilities in Washington, DC, USA and Montreal, Canada. Their business model is basically working with various government entities to design, build, maintain, finance and operate a major roadway and/or tunnel for an agreed-upon period of time – usually decades. This is helpful to public transportation agencies who may be cash strapped or want to allocate their liquid funds for other governmental programs.
Companies like Transurban take on much of the risk
of large infrastructure projects to help communities meet capacity needs. In return for accepting this risk, companies like Transurban are given concessionaire rights, with the hope that they will collect enough in toll revenue to offset their expenses and earn a profit. Because these toll facilities are also a public asset, Transurban is contractually bound to provide travelers with a very high level of service. Moreover, the traveling public must see a benefit to using the toll routes, otherwise they simply won’t use them. Therefore, it is imperative that organizations like Transurban keep the motorways and tunnels in excellent repair, safe to travel on, and with freely moving traffic.
Orion is part of the team that supports that ongoing effort – to provide a high level of quality and service to the traveling public. Their role is to
provide ongoing LiDAR and traditional survey as required.
Orion’s John Philipp said, “There is a lot of maintenance and expansion of the system underway at any given time, with a fair number of tunnels going into Brisbane.” He continued, “Collecting the high accuracy, quick turnaround data that the designers need would not be possible on this busy system without modern tools like the RIEGL scanners.”
On a typical job, Orion has a field team traversing
and laying first order control. Then Orion’s mobile LiDAR scanning teams work nights to perform the scans using the RIEGL VZ-400 terrestrial laser scanners, or the VUX-1UAV scanners mounted rooftop on their company trucks. Imagery is important too, and that is collected as part of each LiDAR scan and is automatically synced with the RIEGL LiDAR scans.
Once the point cloud data and images are collected
and checked, the information can be uploaded onto
udStream and shared with the design team via a
link. “The ability to store, view and work with these
complex point clouds on udStream is really a game
changer. We can turn projects around faster than
ever, and give more and better information to the
team,” said Philipp.
David Hedgcock, Managing Director of Orion added,
“Designers can use udStream to consider different design scenarios and quickly see how one design change might affect other parts of the network.” He continued, “Team members can perform all kinds of measurements with ease, and quantify things like fill dirt or pavement thicknesses down to the millimeter. Another big plus is that udStream allows all parties to look at the same view simultaneously, and from wherever they are.”
From data collection to virtual site visits in 3D, there
is no need to shut down the road. This makes for an
infinitely safer, faster, and more accurate way to
conduct the work. Orion leadership agrees that these tools increase the value of the survey information. Philipp said, “LiDAR point-clouds are easily
viewed and updated digitally, rather than on large rolls of paper.” He added, “Our intent was to demonstrate these tools to different members of the design team and Transurban, and help them to see what is possible.”
Case Study #2 – Historic Rail Station Workshops Digital Twin
Project Location: North Ipswich Railway Workshop, Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
Client: Extent Heritage Pty Ltd with Queensland Rail Limited
Date: August 2019
Project Description: The North Ipswich Railway Workshops complex is one of the most important rail-related heritage sites in Queensland and is listed on the Queensland Heritage Register. The property operator, Queensland Rail, wanted a record of this century old site. It was important that the entirety of the historic features including the buildings and workshops (interior, exterior, machinery, equipment and other contents) were thoroughly recorded in a manner that provides a platform for their future
Extent Heritage Pty Ltd served as a heritage consultant to create the archival record of the site and its contents. Orion served on the selected team and performed ground and airborne LiDAR scanning, photogrammetry and traditional survey. The datasets were then imported into Euclideon’s udStream as the core part of the deliverable.
Challenges on the Historic Rail Digital Twin
-Short Project Schedule and Limited Access.
The work needed to be completed as quickly as
possible so as not to interfere with operations.
-Merging of data from different Methodologies. The work would require
merging of data from different types of collections including LiDAR, imagery and meta-data. Scans were to include intensity and color views, at a minimum of 3 mm at 10 m. Extent Heritage Pty Ltd specified the use of high definition surveying (HDS), photogrammetry, and virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR). These data sets would need to be merged seamlessly and in a high quality manner.
-High Quality, Easily Accessed 3D Visual Content Was a Must. The team’s deliverable had to provide a “virtual” experience that is visually pleasing, uncomplicated, interactive and immersive. The udStream allows the multiple viewers to move in any direction throughout the tours, using no specialized equipment.
-Ground and Airborne Collections Were Required. Roof structures and aerial views were needed, necessitating the use of airborne LiDAR and photogrammetry.
-Compliance with Governing Agencies. The methodology used in the archival records had to meet principles established by numerous agencies including: The Burra Charter: The Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance (Burra Charter), 2013; the ICOMOS Charter for the Interpretation and Presentation of Cultural Heritage Sites (Ename Charter), 2008; and Guideline: Archival Recording of Heritage Places of the Queensland Heritage Act 1992.
-Tight Budget. Orion had to come in at or under the agreed upon fee Extent committed to in their proposal.
Data Collection Tools: (exteriors only)
–RIEGL Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TLS) VZ-400
-Helicopter with RIEGL VUX-1UAV
About the Historical Rail Digital Twin Project
The project scope was to document extensive historic rail facilities that are
among the oldest and most treasured in the country, with some structures that date back to the 1800’s. The data collection also included the steam rail
equipment and blacksmith workshops, which are arguably the best preserved in the country.
In the past a documentarian would take photographs and videotape the area, adding to these their extensive notes. Euclideon’s udStream offered a more modern solution that would make the data easily viewed, interactive and would require no additional investment in software or equipment to view the colorful and precise 3D data. The team combined the latest in LiDAR, photogrammetry and AR/VR technology to create a digital twin never seen before by Queensland Rail.
With the data collected by Orion, the team provides an immersive experience for future generations to view buildings and objects in full color, and within millimeter accuracy in any optical direction. This data will likely be the basis of future museum-style experiences, documentaries, further studies, and also viewed as-is on udStream by rail enthusiasts
around the world.
John Philipp said, “The key to this project was a high quality survey. With what we produced and
uploaded onto udStream,
historians will be able to reconstruct the buildings should they desire, find
replacement parts, and document what was there over a hundred years ago. This same workflow
can and is being used to capture other historical treasures like cultural indigenous sites such as
burial sites, sacred gathering areas.”
Euclideon and Orion wanted to demonstrate to
the historians and the people at Queensland Rail
what could be done with the combined RIEGL
and Euclideon udStream technologies, and how
easy and beneficial it would be to do more
projects like it.
The initial phase is complete and has been received well by all parties. This is an enormous facility and there is still much more work to be performed.
Orion and RIEGL Australia “Feedback Loop” Benefits Clients
RIEGL Australia and Orion Spatial Solutions are both located in South East Queensland, Australia. Over the years, leadership from the two companies have had many in-depth discussions about the market demands for scanning hardware, software and data deliverables. These ongoing conversations provide invaluable user feedback that often finds its way to the RIEGL engineering team in Austria.
Glenne Blyth, Managing Director of RIEGL Australia said, “In-depth meetings with end users like John Philipp at Orion and others like him, has naturally morphed into a sort of ‘feedback loop’ between Australia and Austria. By sharing information we have been able to do some problem-solving together, and also anticipate what types of future product developments would be helpful in the field.”
Orion has grown in size and capabilities with the addition of new RIEGL technology, including the VUX-1UAV in 2020. Blyth added, “The teams at Orion are absolute professionals at what they do and how they deliver their projects. And because of the strong relationship we’ve developed over years – between manufacturer and end-user – Orion gets the most out of their RIEGL products. They need only pick up the phone or send an email when they are approaching a challenging project. We both benefit so
much from these conversations, but the big winner is their clients.”
RIEGL introduced Orion to Euclideon, also in Queensland, several years ago as a possible solution to their specific needs for managing the large, 3D datasets. This introduction helped their data go full circle – from precision data collection to delivering useful products to their clients like they’ve never experienced before. It’s impossible to put a price on the connections and sharing of information – from project beginning to end.
Orion Spatial Solutions, using the RIEGL terrestrial and airborne (UAV and manned) LiDAR scanners combined with Euclideon’s udStream, is setting new standards with their clients. They are performing the onsite collections quickly and getting highly accurate data that clients find useful in a myriad of ways.
On the back end of the deliverable, Euclideon developers have been eager to work hand in hand with companies like Orion to present the final deliverables in a format that end users can easily work with and afford. This next step of combining multiple, big, information-rich datasets in an easy to store/use/share format is a major step forward in the evolution of the 3D industry.
“With Orion capturing a massive amount of data with their bathymetry, terrestrial, mobile and airborne RIEGL scanners, udStream will be a fundamental part of the toolkit moving forward. We look forward to seeing the platform grow,” said Orion’s John Philipp.
To view Part 2 and Part 1 in PDF format, please click the link below:
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