True View 3D Imaging System Solutions Update

Author: Lewis Graham
Published On: April 12, 2020

Well, it is now about 6 months since our first release of the True View 410 3D Imaging System (3DIS).  As you know, this is the follow-on to our very successful Loki direct geopositioning system for drone photogrammetry.

The True View Ecosystem

The True View 410 includes the integrated sensor, full processing software and access to True View Reckon, our Amazon Web Services (AWS)-hosted "cloud" platform.  An image of the sensor itself is shown as Figure 1.

Labeled Components of True View 410 Integrated UAV LIDAR/Camera Sensor
Figure 1: True View 410 3DIS

What Sets True View 410 Apart from Other Drone 3D Imaging Systems?

There are a few features that I think make the True View 410 unique among what we might call "utility" class drone 3D imaging systems.  By "utility", I mean the sensor has applicability to a wide range of data collection scenarios and can be deployed on 80% of your projects (unless you are a specialty provider of services such as, for example, performing only wire collection work).  The features that separate this system from all others of its class include:

  • Dual integrated photogrammetric cameras - Most drone LIDAR vendors do a poor job with camera integration. Many glom on a Sony DSLR and leave you to your own devices to find software for post-processing.   The fields of view are often not matched to the laser scanner.  The True View 410 cameras are photogrammetric in that they feature fixed focus lenses, hardware mid-exposure pulse (MEP) detection and wired camera triggers.  These cameras were custom built for GeoCue for this specific purpose.  Two cameras at offset angles are used to give a perfect match between the image and LIDAR fields of view (120°).
  • Self-contained power, eliminating the need to do any electrical integration with the drone. This allows the True View 410 to be easily adopted to a wide variety of drone platforms.
  • Applanix APX Position and Orientation System (POS) - While the Applanix APX series is rather popular in drone LIDAR circles, there are a few vendors who are trying to cut corners in this area.
  • Complete processing software from POS post-processing through LIDAR geocoding and colorization to automatic ground classification. All the software (including POS-post processing) is integrated into our True View Evo software.  True View Evo is based on our industry standard LP360 point cloud processing software. 
  • Access to True View Reckon for cloud-hosted processing. We use Reckon to manage all accounting within True View sensor system.  An example is managing the accounting aspects of a True View subscription system.  However, it goes well beyond this.  When we calibrate a True View 410, we post the calibration file to Reckon by sensor serial number.  When you do data processing in True View Evo, Reckon is automatically checked to ensure you are using the correct calibration.  If we need to re-calibrate your sensor, we just have you fly a specific project pattern and then post the new calibration file to Reckon.  In this quarter we are added AWS data storage for your project data.  This will allow you to archive raw True View 410 data (in a package called a Cycle) directly from True View Evo to Reckon. 

All of the above is important, but the big two are integrated cameras and fully integrated software.  In about two-thirds of the flight time (i.e. you can post-process an 18 minute flight in about 12 minutes), you can output a geocoded, ground classified, colorized 3D point cloud.  This is truly high value Return on Investment!

The True View 410 in Action

Since the release of the first systems in October of 2019, we have seen the True View 410 used in a wide variety of scenarios with great success.   Here are just a few example use cases:

  • Windrose Land Services (Texas) - The True View 410 is used in a variety of topographic mapping services aimed at reducing on-site survey time and improving project accuracy
  • City of Miami Beach, Florida - The True View 410 is being used to map all of the seawalls in the City of Miami Beach. We made a special data collection tool for Miami Beach that has been used to collect (as of February) over 30 linear miles of seawall.
  • Alabama Department of Transportation - We did a little emergency response mapping for AL DOT to assist with the assessment and planning of a land slide that closed a major roadway.
  • Innovative Imaging and Research (I2R) - Deployed a True View 410 with the Civil Air Patrol for damage assessment following the earthquakes in Puerto Rico of 2019
  • California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) - Caltrans is using a True View 410 to conduct coastal erosion studies. These data sets really showcase the value of true colorization of the LIDAR point cloud.
  • Associated Engineers (Kentucky) - We worked with Associated Engineers and Harris Aerial to mount the True View 410 on the Harris H6 gas/electric hybrid drone (see Figure 2). This set us to work modifying system software to manage this very long data collects!

Figure 2: True View 410 on the Harris H6

Note in the above sample use cases the appearance more than once of emergency response.  Unlike photogrammetry where it takes a number of hours to post-process images into a point cloud, the colorized point clouds from a True View 410 can be produced in a matter of minutes. 

Drone LIDAR/Imagery Sensor Subscription 

The True View 410 subscription model has been very popular with perhaps 60% of our True View systems being out on subscription.  While our introductory pricing ended in March, the standard pricing is still quite a bargain. We continue to offer the program as a 1 month, 3 month or 12 month package.  Starting a drone LIDAR program under a subscription model makes a lot of sense when you are unsure of the future of the business and you want to reduce risk.

Remote Training Sessions

The current coronavirus pandemic has forced us (like many of companies) to move to an online training model.  We have our first session this month.  These training sessions are aimed at users who will be deploying a True View system within the next month.  For those of you who are a bit further out in your acquisition of a system, we are trying a new on-line True View Seminar.  This is essentially a very in-depth, 3 hour seminar on the True View ecosystem with a lot of time interspersed for questions.  We will be sending out notices for these sessions.

Added Features in True View Evo Processing Software and True View Reckon Portal

We have been steadily adding features to the True View Evo post-processing software and True View Reckon web services to add value to the resultant data and speed the process.  Among the more significant developments that are related to True View processing (for additions to LP360 that are also in True View Evo that relate to general point cloud processing, see the article on LP360 in this issue):

  • Added a new Import Wizard to make creating and processing True View data faster and easier
  • Added an archive system that allows archiving of flight "Cycles" to both local archives and Amazon Web Services (AWS) via True View Reckon
  • Integrated calibration files into True View Reckon with automatic selection and download when processing data through True View Evo.
  • Added a feature that allows a Cycle to be transferred from a customer's True View Reckon Archive to GeoCue Support, speeding the process of addressing problems or helping with project processing

We are constantly improving True View Evo/LP360; both to increase production throughout efficiency and to add new derivative products.

The Future of the True View Product Line

True View 250 - Geopositioning System 

On the new development front are a few hardware products.  The True View 250 is a dual camera direct geopositioning system designed for the DJI M200/M210 series drones (and the rumored M300).  It uses the same GeoCue Mapping Cameras as the True View 410 at the same 25° off-nadir giving a 120° cross-track field of view. Like the True View 410, this oblique camera placement significantly improves the results of point clouds created via the structure from motion process (e.g. Metashape, Pix4D, Context Capture).

True View 615/620 - Reigl Based 3D Imaging System

We also intend to bring our Riegl-based 3D Imaging Systems to market in late Q2 or early Q3.  These will feature dual cameras and the Riegl miniVUX2.  These sensors are aimed at specialty projects where higher accuracy and precision are required and project revenue can justify a higher cost sensor. 

As you can see, the True View Ecosystem is a large and ongoing development area for our company.  We see a bright future in drone mapping where rapid response and processing is the norm.  We are really just at the front end of this exciting new technology.  Look for more innovative products to roll out from us over the next several years.