Drone + Laser Scanning Technology

Manually verifying and documenting existing field conditions is a demanding task.  It is slow, labor-intensive, presents safety challenges and does not always produce accurate results.

Today, advancements in laser scanning and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) have made field verification and documenting of existing conditions faster, safer and more accurate than ever before.  Recognizing the value that these technological advancements, Vestal heavily invested in upgrading and adding additional technology coupled with advanced training for team members.

The benefits of Vestal’s upgraded technology-based tools were realized on a recent project for a Fortune 100 company. Vestal was required to verify and document project site existing conditions in support of an 18,000 square foot addition to a manufacturing facility. Over 30,000 square feet needed to be verified and documented before design work could begin. Adding to the complexity of the project the finished floor elevations of multiple adjacent structures varied widely across the site making existing slopes determination extremely challenging.

Laser Scanning:   Spinning at nearly 8,000 rpm’s, Vestal’s Leica RTC360 Laser Scanner documented 2 million reference points every second while rotating 360 degrees in under a minute. When finished documenting reference points the Leica RTC360 Laser Scanner rotated once more to capture high resolution images and stitch them together to create a complete 3D image. After data is captured in one location, the scanner is relocated, and the process is repeated until the project area is entirely scanned. The Leica RTC360 Laser Scanner is so advanced, it determines its location using GPS and VIS systems. The VIS system is a series of cameras that locate the scanner based off points it has already recorded. Recorded scans are registered in the field eliminating the need for post-processing.

Unmanned Aerial System Reconnaissance (Drone):  Due to access difficulty and safety concerns Vestal used an Unmanned Aerial System (Drone) to collect existing information about various roof sections. Equipped with a 4K high-resolution camera and obstacle avoidance sensors Vestal’s drone, flown by an FAA licensed pilot was able to document existing roof conditions and eliminate safety risk to personnel. When paired with third party software, Vestal’s drone can fly autonomously recording images to create two-dimensional maps and three-dimensional models.

After the existing field conditions information was collected using a combination of the laser scanning and drone reconnaissance, Vestal’s highly-trained BIM team extracted the necessary data, published the data and loaded the data into the design software and as-built models. The software that Vestal uses is so advanced, it can add structural elements, pipes and ductwork details with incredible accuracy. Aside from being able to create models, the software is capable of measuring elements down to a fraction of an inch, with greater accuracy than a tape measure.

Effectively utilizing the latest technologies and leveraging their power through skilled team members, provides Vestal the ability to extract the best value for our clientele and produce a working document that is field verified faster, safer and with more accuracy than ever before.

It’s hard to imagine how new technologies will enhance our industry, from futuristic gadgets portrayed in movies to more tangible items like virtual and augmented reality. In this fast-paced, ever-changing, technologically advancing world, one thing will remain constant:  Vestal Corporation will remain committed to continually looking towards the future and exploring the latest advancements in technology to improve the value it brings to clients.

by:  Brian Hertz, AIA, NCARB | Vestal Corporation | BIM Director