GeoCue True View Ecosystem
Author: Lewis Graham
Published On: January 13, 2020
True View 410 - Drone LIDAR/Imagery 3DIS
The release of the True View® 410 (Figure 1), our initial 3D Imaging Sensor (3DIS) has really exceeded my expectations. We migrated system production from our Research and Development (R&D) team to Manufacturing proper near the end of Q4-2019. We have a relatively smooth manufacturing workflow in place now and are working hard to build up a bit of "on the shelf" stock. So far, we have been selling/subscribing True View 410 systems as fast as we can manufacture them, a good problem to have!
Figure 1 - The True View 410 3DiS
Position and Orientation System - Applanix
We have a major focus on squeezing as much precision and accuracy from the True View 410 as is physically possible. You cannot do any better than the accuracy of the Position and Orientation System (POS). We solved this challenge by using the best POS available on the market - systems from Applanix (a Trimble division). This leaves the laser scanner as the focus area for improvement. Fortunately, we have an excellent working relationship with the engineering team at Quanergy, the supplier of the M8 Ultra laser scanner that we use in the True View 410. We have discovered several ways to fine tune the reference data we receive from the scanner and the Quanergy engineering team has implemented changes to realize these improvements. We are now very comfortably within our accuracy and resolution specifications. In fact, the system is producing quite amazing 3D colorized point clouds.
Calibration and Certification Process
A newly manufactured True View sensor undergoes three flights as part of its certification and calibration. These flights are:
- A short flight at 30m Above Ground Level (AGL) to do a magnetic calibration (Position and Orientation System, POS, includes a magnetometer to 'bootstrap' heading).
- A full cross strip calibration flight at 60m. Data from this flight (along with a bunch of other data, of course) is used to perform a rigorous in-situ calibration of the system (both laser scanner and cameras)
- A check flight at 75m that is completely independent of the calibration flight. We measure ground check points to ensure we are meeting our accuracy band without Ground Control Points (GCP)
We are often asked how calibration is managed over the lifetime of a True View 3DIS. We have given this much thought in the design process of the True View family and have created a system to make this both easy and accurate. If you think about a sensor's calibration, two situations can occur:
- The sensor's characteristics have not changed but its calibration can be improved by some change in parameter we have developed or simply due to a poor initial calibration. In this case, all prior projects could be improved by reprocessing with this new calibration. We call this a Calibration "Series."
- The second case occurs when something happens to a system to change its characteristics. Examples include the system has been disturbed by a hard landing or a component (such as a camera) was replaced. When this occurs, a new calibration Series is started for this sensor.
If you consider the above cases, the best calibration data to use is the most recent within a series. The correct series is selected as the series whose start/end date brackets the flight date; a bit complicated, I know. Fortunately, you do not need to worry about which calibration to use. We store all system calibration data, by 3DIS serial number, in our True View Reckon cloud portal. Information about all the True View 3DIS systems that you own or have under subscription is stored in Reckon. An example (simulated) is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 2 - Calibration Table in True View Reckon - Data Management Portal
True View Reckon - Data Management Portal
When you run True View Evo (the post-processing/analytic software bundled with every True View 3DIS), you will have an account set up in True View Reckon. At the time of Data Import during post-processing, your desktop True View Evo communicates the serial number and flight date/time to Reckon. Reckon then returns information about available calibration for this sensor. True View Evo then selects the appropriate calibration file. I will illustrate the power of this by an example.
True View Reckon - Case Example
Suppose you examine a True View project and find a vertical shift between flight lines that seems to appear in multiple projects (meaning it is not a project specific GNSS drift). After sending flight data to True View Support, we do an updated calibration on your sensor. Rather than passing that file back to you to worry with, we post it to your account in True View Reckon. The next time you process a new project, this updated calibration file will be used. Better yet, if you reprocess old projects, the new data will be used as well. Freeing you from the worry of how to manage calibration data is a huge time savings for you and your staff.
Services Provided in Reckon
The above is one of the many ways we will be using "cloud-hosted" data and services to assist you with collecting and processing projects. True View Reckon is our AirGon Reckon (hosted in Amazon Web Services, AWS) data management system that has been managing customer drone project data for the past 4 years. This is mature technology that is becoming the data hub for our True View "ecosystem." As the True View ecosystem matures, you will see more services appearing in Reckon. Examples include (services marked with an * are already in place):
- *Managing True View Subscriptions
- *Serving as a project storage and viewing portal
- *Managing calibration data
- Delivering sensor firmware updates
- Providing a variety of "pay-per-use" services such as positioning modes (already in place) and Flight "Cycle" archive services
True View Point System
All fee-based services provided by Reckon consume "True View Points." This is a convenience for everyone since it removes the hassle of currency conversions. One thing we do want to be careful of is to not try to nickel and dime you to death with fee for service schemes. Core, required functions of running a purchased True View system will not require pay-per-use. Examples include sensor calibration and firmware file management, single base processing and so forth. However, pay-per-use is very convenient for services that are occasionally used. For example, you might need to process a single project using Trimble's PP-RTX positioning service because your base station failed. Rather than the usual business model of purchasing an annual subscription to PP-RTX from Trimble, you can process the project directly in True View Evo using True View Points. You do not need a contract with Trimble; this transaction is entirely handled by Reckon.
I am enjoying architecting the True View ecosystem. This is really one of the core reasons that you will acquire a system from us; all other vendors will sell you a sensor. We, on the other hand, will provide a well thought out system that allows you to profitably collect and process the data you need to complete a job.
Keep an eye on True View Reckon - I think you will be very pleased with the robustness and completeness these services provide to True View workflows.