We have been incredibly busy on the True View front during this first quarter of 2021. We released 3 new sensors, trained quite a number of new users and continued to work with standing up our new joint venture in Australia.
The unique value proposition of the GeoCue 3D Imaging System (3DIS®) ecosystem is several-fold:
If you are doing an overall evaluation of options for sUAS mapping, consider the above factors before making a selection.
On the Survey grade front, we were one of the first companies to receive the new RIEGL miniVUX-3UAV sensor. This is one of the many advantages of having a long term supplier agreement with RIEGL. We created the new True View 635 and True View 640 using the miniVUX-3UAV. The True View 640 uses the Applanix APX-20 Position and Orientation System (POS). The APX-20 has a new upgraded external Inertial Measurement Unit, the IMU-90. The IMU-90 meets the accuracy levels of the prior IMU-82 but reduces the mass of the unit to below 100 g. With sUAS mapping systems, every gram reduction helps!
The miniVUX-3UAV has a new scanning mode that can focus 100,000 emitted pulses per second into a 120° field of view (FOV). This is equivalent to a 300,000 point per second 360° FOV. The design FOV of the GeoCue 3DIS® series has always been 120°. Thus the new miniVUX-3UAV seems purpose-built for our 3DIS architecture! We have had an amazing uptake on our new 635/640 with integrated sensors shipping to customers as fast as we can get scanners from RIEGL. If you are considering a survey grade instrument, please be aware of this delivery pipeline.
Another very exciting release is the True View 515. This 3D Imaging Sensor is of the same dual camera design as all our 3DIS but uses the new Hesai PandarXT-32 laser scanner. This is a 360° FOV, 640,000 outbound pulse, dual return sensor. We had been doing extensive testing over the past 12 months, searching for a very high density sensor with acceptable noise characteristics and high sensitivity.
We have deep experience with the Velodyne Ultra 32 (we owned and flew many missions with this Velodyne sensor). While its range was OK and its sensitivity fairly good, it had more noise than we found acceptable in a mapping grade laser scanner. We evaluated the XT-32 with quite a bit of skepticism in mind. While it does exhibit a higher level of noise than a sensor with fewer beams, it is much better than the Velodyne and certainly well within the acceptable level for a topographic scanner (typically less than 5 cm of noise at 1 σ). The real surprise for us was the very high sensitivity of this scanner. By sensitivity, I mean how likely the scanner is to “see” the return from an outbound pulse under different target types and operating ranges. We found that we were routinely seeing distribution wires at imaging ranges of 75 m (see Figure 1). This is pretty remarkable in a relatively low cost LIDAR/imaging system.
As another test of sensitivity, we flew a coal stockpile at an above ground altitude (AGL) of 50 m. We were really amazed at the completely gapless returns we captured. In Figure 2, notice that even in what appears as a shadowed area of the coal pile, we have a completely solid profile with no data gaps. Coal is one of the acid tests of laser receiver sensitivity since it is highly absorbent at the 990 nanometer wave length of the laser used in these systems. Clearly the True View 515 will make short work of these difficult inventory projects.
Of course, the everyday use of the True View 515 is topographic mapping in heavily vegetated areas. We flew a fairly heavily wooded section of our new GeoCue campus with the True View 515 (see Figure 3). The profile is a 25 cm cross-section of the flight area (the white line in the planimetric view of Figure 3). The profile is colorized by return (the True View 515 is a dual return system). Notice the remarkable consistency of returns in the data. We were so impressed with the penetrating capability of this system that we dubbed it “Vegemite!”
As an everyday sensor for a very wide range of applications, the True View 515 is really the killer system. At a list price of US$75,000, including all postprocessing software (and, of course, our trademark coregistered dual cameras), this is a very high Return on Investment (ROI) system. In certain locations (USA, Canada, Australia) the True View 515 is available under a subscription model with obligation periods as short as 1 month.
We are very busy adding exciting and useful new features to the True View EVO and True View Reckon processing framework. While the hardware is a critical element in sUAS mapping, having a complete, accurate and easy to use software framework is key to project success. We are, without a doubt, the leading company in the world with respect to our software integration level. I intend to keep it this way.
If you are currently a True View customer, look for amazing new features in the software over the next 12 months. If you are considering entering the drone LIDAR/Imaging mapping business, get in touch with us. We will be a key element of your success.