GeoCue True View 410 Overview

Lewis Graham, President/CTO

Introduction

There are several companies providing sensor and workflow technology for the small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS, drone) market.  However, no one seems to be offering an integrated solution. This forces users of sUAS sensors to piecemeal systems from parts that often require a lot of force fitting.

GeoCue’s True View™ solutions will address these problems. True View will comprise a family of hardware and software aimed at providing fully integrated solutions to typical drone mapping problems. Unlike some solutions, True View does not lock you in to a particular workflow. You can exit the True View flow at nearly any point, diverting the data from the True View processing environment to your existing workflow. Of course, once you have processed in our True View Evo software, it is not likely you will want to use anything else!

The True View product series from GeoCue uses a common hardware and software foundation for a family of sensors. Most of our customers will own more than one product from the True View family. Our True View Evo (as in ‘evolution’) software environment, powered by GeoCue’s LP360, provides a common post-processing software environment for all True View sensors, whether that is ground equipment, camera only systems, or True View 3D imaging Sensor platforms. This common platform approach makes training and workflow implementations uniform and fast. 

True View not only addresses the physical issues of purpose-built hardware and software but also your desired business model. Our business approaches range from a traditional full ownership model maintained under an annual maintenance agreement to “evergreen” subscriptions models (for select sensors). 

The True View 410 3D Imaging Sensor (3DiS) is the first solution in the True View series. The True View 410 combines a laser scanner with dual mapping cameras, providing an integrated sensor platform for collecting 3D point clouds and color imagery in a single flight.  Rather than integrating off the shelf components such as prosumer cameras, the True View 410 was designed from the ground-up as a purpose-built 3D imaging sensor. The sensor is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The True View 410

An Overview of the True View 410 Hardware

The True View 410 is a unified imaging/LIDAR solution that provides everything needed to collect and process concurrently collected imagery and laser scanned data. Post-processing software (True View Evo) is included to process the raw sensor data to a geocoded, colorized point cloud, an orthomosiac and final products such as volumetrics, gridded elevation data, contour features, cross-sections and so forth (all the features of LP360 Advanced). 

The top-level specifications of the True View 410 are:

  • Quanergy M8 Ultra multi-return (up to three returns per pulse) laser scanner
    • Effective laser range – 75m
    • Pulse Repetition Rate (PRR) – 420,000 outgoing pulses per second in a 360° field of view (FOV), about 100,000 in a usable 90° FOV
  • Dual 20 MP Sony Exmor 1” sensor cameras with mechanical shutters, electronic mid-exposure pulse (for GNSS synchronization) and fixed focus lenses. This camera is custom built for GeoCue.
  • Fused imagery FOV from dual oblique cameras – 120°
  • Applanix APX-15 Position and Orientation System (POS)
  • Rigid milled aluminum main frame
  • Operating modes – Imagery only, laser data only, combined imagery/laser (default)
  • Data transfer via USB memory stick (USB Mass Storage, UMS)
  • > 1 Hour battery life
  • System is controlled via a plain text configuration file
  • System operation and power is totally independent from the drone platform
  • System mass is about 2.25 kg (including battery)
  • Optional mounting kit for the DJI Matrice M600

True View 410 is available as a traditional purchase or as an “evergreen” Hardware as a Service (HaaS) subscription model.

True View Evo Processing Software

One of the major differentiators of the True View sensors as compared to competitors is the inclusion of all software required to perform not only data post-processing but also final product creation. The same software applications will be used for all sensors in the True View product line (of course, not all functions will be applicable to all sensors). We are building two major software components for the True View product line: True View Evo desktop processing and True View Portal cloud data storage and presentation.

True View Evo (based on our LP360 Advanced software) includes:

  • True View Project Creation Wizard
  • Integrated interface for Applanix POSPac for processing the attitude and position data– no need to leave the Evo application
  • Raw laser data to LAS geocoding (creates the original point cloud in LAS format from the raw laser scan and trajectory data)
  • GeoCorrect for improving swatch matching and tying projects to ground control (this will be released as an update later in 2019)
  • “True 3D” LIDAR Point colorization from the camera imagery
  • Geocoding of the camera images with an option to update the position and attitude in the image header (“EXIF”) data for use in external structure from motion (SfM) software such as Agisoft Metashape or Pix4D
  • Creation of an orthomosiac using visible surface mapping
  • The full suite of LP360 Advanced tools for assessing accuracy, cleaning data and creating derivative products such as gridded elevation models, contours, profiles and other exports.

An example of point cloud colorization within Evo is depicted in Figure 2.

Figure 2: A cluster of trees rendered in “True 3D” – True View Evo processing

Our AirGon Reckon product is being repurposed as “True View Portal.” Not only will this continue to provide Amazon Web Services-hosted data management, but it will also serve as the eCommerce system for True View subscriptions. Figure 3 shows a 3D view of a mine site in True View Portal. 

Figure 3:  Mine Site in True View Portal

Applications for the True View 410

The True View 410 is designed to be your “go-to” sensor for general purpose LIDAR and/or imagery projects. With an average operating range of 75 meters, multiple returns, and dual photogrammetric cameras, the True View 410 provides a rich data set for most drone mapping applications.  Examples of suitable projects include:

  • Stockpile volumetric surveys
  • Dormant site mine surveys (for example, overgrown with vegetation)
  • Active mine surveying
  • Mine overburden surveys
  • Earthworks projects including differential volumetrics (cut/fill)
  • General site surveys
  • General Topographic Surveys for land development
  • Dam, seawall, levee mapping and inspection

Benefits of the True View 410

The biggest benefit of the True View 410 is the focus on being a total solution rather than just a LIDAR system. We first envisioned the True View solution family after struggling for years with adding prosumer cameras to LIDAR scanners. We have wrestled with moving in and out of myriad software products in an attempt to obtain an accurate solution, worked with applications to fuse LIDAR data with imagery in systems that were not designed to work together, and many other workflow and integration difficulties. 

The True View 410 is a package of hardware, software and post-deployment support that provides everything you need to generate mapping products from a drone-borne sensor package. The integrated design ensures that your time on site is efficiently spent, all data are properly synchronized, that the overall collection and data processing is smooth, and that you can feel confident in the quality of the delivered products.

In addition to the care we have taken with our solutions approach to the True View 410, we have also considered the business models required to ensure that you have a positive return on investment.  We are providing the True View 410 under two different business models:

  • Standard Solution purchase
  • Hardware as a Service subscription model

True View Evergreen Hardware as a Service

The True View 410 is available under a unique (to the drone industry) Evergreen Hardware as a Service (HaaS) subscription model. The True View 410 HaaS model allows you to get started in drone LIDAR/Imaging without a large capital outlay. The general parameters of the HaaS agreement are:

  • You are charged per minute of flight time (not sensor “on” time but time in motion)
  • The per-minute charge is in three levels, depending on your choice for positioning solution
  • There is a minimum monthly “minutes” commitment
  • The minimum time commitment is for three months
  • The HaaS model includes all processing software
  • Maintenance and support are included in the per-minute charge

The HaaS model includes sensor replacement. If your True View 410 should fail, we will ship you a new sensor and you will return the current sensor to us. You are responsible for physical damage due to crashes or other incidents. 

Under the HaaS model, you are effectively subscribing to the True View solution. You will receive both software and hardware updates, as they occur. This keeps your technology in an “evergreen” state. 

Not only does this HaaS model allow you to explore drone LIDAR mapping at very low risk, it is also an excellent model for seasonal use and surge capacity.

What’s in the Box?

The True View 410 includes everything you need (except the drone) to collect, process and deliver general purpose drone-collected LIDAR and/or imagery products. The True View 410 solution includes:

  • The True View 410 3D imaging sensor
  • 2 batteries
  • battery charger
  • Applanix POSPac (desktop for purchased systems, cloud for subscription models)
  • GNSS antenna
  • True View Evo software
  • Basic True View Portal subscription
  • Maintenance (first year for purchased, evergreen under the HaaS model)
  • Full email technical support

Optional Add Ons

  • Training (factory or on-site) can be separately purchased
  • A mounting kit for the DJI M600 is available as a separately priced option

A complete installation kit for the DJI M600 is separately available. This mounting kit uses the same dovetail mount as DJI’s Ronin gimbal, enabling quick changes from mapping configuration to inspection. Assistance with mounting to non-DJI drones is available under consulting services.

Summary

We think the True View product line will change the value proposition for drone-based true 3D imaging. You will now, at a very affordable price, be able to simultaneously collect high quality LIDAR and imagery using a platform designed from the ground up for sensor fusion. You will then be able to process and exploit those data in an integrated workflow using tools that have been proven in the industry for years. True View is truly a step function improvement in the Return on Investment proposition for drone mapping!