About Amerisurv| Contact    
Magazine | Newsletter    
Flickr Photos | Advertise    
HomeNewsNewsletterAmerisurv DirectoryJobsStoreAuthorsHistoryArchivesBlogVideosEvents

Sponsored By

Software Reviews
Continuing Series
An RTN expert provides everything you need to know about network-corrected real-time GNSS observations.
Click Here to begin the series,
or view the Article PDF's Here
76-PageFlip Compilation
of the entire series
Test Yourself

Got Answers?
Test your knowledge with NCEES-level questions.
  Start HERE
Meet the Authors
Check out our fine lineup of writers. Each an expert in his or her field.
Wow Factor
Sponsored By

Product Reviews
Partner Sites







Spatial Media LLC properties




Home arrow Archives   The American Surveyor     

Editorial: Knowing What We Don't Know Print E-mail
Written by Marc Cheves, PS   
Friday, 10 July 2015

A 121Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

I recently attended the Teledyne Optech Imaging & LiDAR Solutions conference in Toronto. The well-attended meeting showcased much of what we covered in the 3D Pioneers article our April 2014 issue. Of particular interest to me in that article was how, under the tagline Everywhere You Look, the synergy between Teledyne and Optech continues to provide multiple benefits for customers.

In his keynote, Lewis Graham, owner and CTO of GeoCue Group, discussed the implementation of unmanned aerial systems and made a very salient point: when pitching the idea to a client, it's not enough to demonstrate that costs will be the same with replacement technology. The only way to make a client abandon established processes is to show dramatic cost savings. William Tompkinson of Insightful Dimensions in the UK informed the audience that in the UK, firms with UAV capability increased from 130 to 549 in 18 months, and that France and Canada alone have more than 1,000 commercial operators.

Perhaps borrowing from the title of the Don Rumsfeld book, Known and Unknown, Don Carswell, president of Teledyne Optech, gave a fascinating keynote about the dangers of thinking nothing will ever be needed, or that we have reached limits. He used the famous quotes from Edison saying we would never use AC current, and Darryl Zanuck about how television wouldn't last more than six months. Two I hadn't heard came from Bill Gates: "We will never need a 32-bit operating system," and "There's nobody getting rich writing software that I know of."

Carswell further amplified his remarks by invoking Arthur C. Clarke's famous Three Laws: 1) When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is most probably wrong; 2) The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible; and 3) Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Carswell said, "Assumptions about the unnecessary or impossible sometimes pervade an industry. We become limited by what we know to be impossible, e.g., flight, space travel, good government."

Carswell's example of impossible was the challenge of getting around the speed of light limitation. He credited Teledyne and its extensive R&D network with helping Optech get around the challenge. Carswell's mea culpa stated, "There is no need for more than 4 LiDAR measurements per square meter." In following up, I learned that today's Teledyne Optech aerial gear provides unlimited returns with lower accuracy waveform and 8 returns per square meter with high accuracy discrete technology. Carswell mentioned that, with UAVs, impossible is a rapidly moving and receding thing. Regulations are still being developed (particularly in the U.S.). Pere Molina from GeoNumerics commented that "Technology must move regulations, not the other way around." An example of this is a system developed in Germany that electronically "tethers" an aerial platform to a moving ground platform. Both platforms do what they do best, but Carswell pointed out that the FAA has specifically disallowed this approach as a way to get around the "the UAV must remain in sight" requirement.

One of the problems with terrestrial LiDAR is shadows. That is, areas occluded, or rooftops, etc. Optech has found that because aerial LiDAR does not have the same accuracy as terrestrial LiDAR, the best approach will be UAV cameras in the air using photogrammetry, and LiDAR on the ground. Even with reduced accuracy, the aerial data will still be useful for modeling in areas where there is no data at all. Carswell used as an example an open pit mine with high walls. Using terrestrial, oftentimes there are occluded areas: these can be easily picked up with a UAV. We had an article about this sensor fusion (Open Pit Mines) in our February 2014 issue.

Marc Cheves is editor of the magazine.

A 121Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

< Prev   Next >

 American Surveyor Recent Articles
Marc Cheves, PS 
Editorial: A Great Year to be a Surveyor
Some magazines have what are called "theme" issues. That is, most of the content is focused on one particular subject. In my 22+ years of survey magazine publishing, my philosophy has always been to have a little bit of everything in each issue, thereby eliminating the possibility that ....
Read the Article
Jason E. Foose, PS 
Decided Guidance: Case Examinations: Halverson v. Deerwood Village
Whew! We really beat the snot out of Bryant v. Blevins and practical locations. Well this month we're back on new case that hit the Minnesota Supreme Court's docket in 1982. We've got the familiar gymnastics of jurisprudence featuring an extraordinary array of flying rope stretchers ...
Read the Article
Michel Philips 
Extreme Environment Surveying
A Franco-Chilean team of cave divers used the Nautiz X8 rugged handheld for marine cave surveying, gathering data to classify the inaccessible northern half of Madre de Dios for UNESCO World Heritage. The team of cave divers used the Nautiz X8 ....
Read the Article
Erik Dahlberg 
The Original Green Engineers
Sometimes, it's best just to leave things as you found them. That's the lesson shared by Dr. Richard Miksad and his students at the University of Virginia. As a result of studies covering nearly a decade, Miksad's teams have developed detailed ....
Read the Article
Dave Lindell, PS 
Test Yourself 49: No Dimensions
In square A-C-D-B with side S, C-E is tangent to the semicircle Q1 with diameter B-D. Q2 is the inscribed circle of A-C-E. The tangent to Q1 and Q2 meets the sides of the square at F and H and intersects C-E at t G. Q3 is the inscribed circle of C-G-H. What is the ratio of the radii of circles ....
Read the Article
Jerry Penry, PS 
Discovery on Grizzly Peak
When First Lieutenant Montgomery M. Macomb arrived in Carson City, Nevada, from Washington D.C., on July 28, 1878, his assigned survey crew from the 4th Artillery was waiting and ready for the new field season. At age 25, Macomb was the leader ....
Read the Article
Wendy Lathrop, PS, CFM 
Vantage Point: Fighting City Hall Over Land
Once upon a time (1989 to be exact) in a place not so far away from where I live, a man (Francis Galdo) bought a home across the street from a vacant parcel owned by the City of Philadelphia. That parcel, along with others, had been acquired by condemnation back in 1974 subsequent to a 1956 ....
Read the Article
Patrick C. Garner, PS 
Book Review: Boundary Retracement: Processes and Procedures
When I was in my mid-twenties and learning the honorable profession of land surveying, I was lucky to be guided by a mentor who would grab a book off his office shelf and say, "Every surveyor should have a copy of this!" The first example he waved at me was Davis, Foote and Kelly's Surveying ....
Read the Article


Amerisurv Exclusive Online-only Article ticker
Featured Amerisurv Events
List Your Event Here
contact Amerisurv


Javad Intros
Total Solution

press [at] amerisurv.com
Online Internet Content


News Feeds

Subscribe to Amerisurv news & updates via RSS or get our Feedburn
xml feed

Need Help? See this RSS Tutorial

Historic Maps

post a job
Reach our audience of Professional land surveyors and Geo-Technology professionals with your GeoJobs career ad. Feel free to contact us if you need additional information.


Social Bookmarks

Amerisurv on Facebook 

Amerisurv LinkedIn Group 

Amerisurv Flickr Photos 

Amerisurv videos on YouTube 



The American Surveyor © All rights reserved / Privacy Statement
Spatial Media LLC
7820B Wormans Mill Road, #236
Frederick MD 21701
301-695-1538 - fax