GeoCue at GEO Week
Published On: February 28, 2022
The GeoCue Team spent a productive 3 days at the 2022 Geo Week conference, which combined the AEC Next Technology Expo & Conference, International Lidar Mapping Forum, and SPAR 3D Expo & Conference. On site from GeoCue Group were Darrick Wagg, Vice President of Customer Success, Madelyne McNab, Director of Business Development, and Josh Wright from Business Development.
GeoCue answered questions about their lidar and drone mapping software, hardware, training, support, and consulting services. They also focused on their TrueView 3D Imaging System (3DIS®) product line. True View 3DIS offers a complete hardware/software solution for drone mapping from topography collection to high accuracy DOT work.
GeoCue Product Presentation
At the event, McNab participated in a product preview presentation, giving an overview of GeoCue Group. She kicked off the presentation with a bit of background on the company, explaining how GeoCue was founded in 2003 by Jim Meadlock and Lewis Graham.
In 2005, GeoCue became the designated North American reseller of Terrasolid software, providing software products that are used world-wide for processing point cloud and image data from airborne and mobile LIDAR systems.
GeoCue acquired QCoherent in 2009, who were the founders of the LP360 software product, which is now developed in house at GeoCue and is the core software used for their Lidar technology. 2014 saw a heavier focus into the drone market when GeoCue formed a subsidiary called AirGon and focused on collecting data, building hardware, and developing software products around the hardware.
The following year, GeoCue was selected by Teledyne Technologies to develop the data management platform for the space station through a project called MUSES (Multiple User System for Earth Sensing), an Earth imaging platform, which they still support today.
Then in 2017, GeoCue released their first drone hardware system called Loki. It was a PPK add-on for the DJI platform and introduced GeoCue to new markets. This paved the way towards the development and launch of TrueView in 2019, a LiDAR product series which uses a common hardware and software foundation for a family of sensors. TrueView offers innovative drone LIDAR and photogrammetry solutions integrated in lightweight payloads.
Most recently, at the start of 2022, GeoCue was acquired by mdGroup, an aerial digital twin maker for industrial applications. The acquisition of GeoCue strengthens mdGroup’s leadership as a provider of high-end drone surveying technologies and represents another critical milestone in the mdGroup one-stop shop strategy.
Next, McNab explained that their business is made up of supporting traditional manned LIDAR and mobile mapping space through products like Terrasolid and LP360. The company also supports Enterprise Projects, at Teledyne Ground and a multiyear contract with the US Department of Agriculture. The largest portion of the business centers on drone mapping products, both on the hardware and software side, especially with a large focus on the True View Product line.
What is True View?
TrueView offers an innovative LIDAR + dual oblique mapping camera configuration integrated in a lightweight payload for use on commercial drone platforms. It allows for fast, easy automated generation of true 3D colorized point clouds, oblique imagery and orthophotos from a single drone flight.
“We had 2 main goals we wanted to accomplish when we decided to build the True View system,” McNab explained. “The first was to integrate cameras directly with the LIDAR system so we could do what's called ray tracing. So, all of our systems are integrated with dual cameras that we purpose built for our systems. The second goal was to make it easy for our customers to buy both hardware and easy-to-use software that was completely wrapped around the system.”
To make access to both the drone lidar hardware and software affordable GeoCue offers plans for their users to rent systems that include software. This accommodates customers who want to get started with the technology without incurring large capital expenses up front.
The True View Family
The current sensor lineup in the TrueView product line supports four models of the system. First is the Survey-Grade Mapping Sensor, the TrueView 635/640. This is GeoCue’s second generation RIEGL integration, built with the miniVUX-3UAV and dual mapping cameras. The system provides high accuracy mapping with excellent vegetation penetration and wire detection in a lightweight payload package. The 635 is integrated with APX-15 IMU while the 640 has the APX-20 IMU. Both models have the dual 20MP mapping cameras mounted to the bottom of the system.
The TrueView 515, an all-purpose grade mapping sensor, is their mid-range system, built on the Hesai PandarXT-32 scanner. This compact 3D Imaging System has impeccable definition along wires and superior ground cover beneath vegetation. A 20 MP Camera is also combined with the TrueView 515.
Rounding out the product line is the most recent addition, the TrueView 435. This is the most economical platform for utility-grade mapping, built on the 16 channel Hesai PandarXT. It has the sensitivity needed for infrastructure mapping and the capability to cover lightly vegetated areas.
GeoCue has made many updates in the past year. With the news of the DJI Matrice 600 getting discontinued at the end of 2021, GeoCue adapted their platforms for the DJI Matrice 300. One of the benefits of the TrueView system is its ability to mount to multiple platforms and not be tied into one particular drone. This gives customers the flexibility to select a platform of their choice, although DJI makes up the majority of customer drone integrations.
The TrueView 435 is the latest platform to be released and it’s a great entry level system for drone lidar and mapping. One of the nice benefits of the 435 is it can easily be upgraded to the 515 when the customer needs to provide additional point density.
Coming soon is a compact version of the TrueView 635/640. GeoCue customers expressed a need to adapt a RIEGL survey-grade sensor for the M-300. So, by tapping directly into the battery source of the M-300 GeoCue was able to reduce the system weight to about 2.1 kilograms, light enough to mount to the M-300.
GeoCue offers a complete range of professional LIDAR mapping software including LP360 for Airborne/Mobile LIDAR, TrueView EVO for drone Lidar and imagery, Terrasolid for Airborne/Mobile Lidar, and Agisoft Metashape products for drone imagery.
Before the end of 2021, GeoCue addressed two feature requests. First, customers wanted to be able to create an ortho directly from the software. “We’re very customer focused,” said McNab. “We listen to their needs and in this case, we added a module for Metashape directly into the EVO platform so you don't have to balance between software products to do the ortho generation.”
Other feedback from customers included requests for geometric corrections. To address this need, GeoCue also added a module for StripAlign into the EVO platform. McNab explained that building these modules into the software eliminates the need to bounce between multiple products and simplifies the process to get to the final end deliverable.
GeoCue also has the tools in their EVO suite for processing data from the DJI P4 RTK as well as the DJI Zenmuse P1. The required calibrations for these photogrammetric platforms feed into GeoCue software making it convenient for customers who still collect photogrammetry data as well as LIDAR.
GeoCue also recently added a workflow for the DJI Zenmuse L1, providing geometric correction tools and enhancing the tool set from DJI Terra.
McNab also discussed their free viewer license for EVO Explorer which allows users to review data collected by a TrueView sensor. The primary aim of EVO Explorer is visualization and measurement. Data available in the viewer includes colorized 3D point clouds, ortho imagery, vector line work and Web Mapping Services backdrop layers.
Rounding out the presentation, McNab outlined the broad range of TrueView customers including multiple Departments of Transportation, the US Army, and many large engineering firms across the country. In addition, GeoCue has a subsidiary in Australia and a growing presence in South America, where a number of systems have been recently sold.