Smart Point Cloud Ecosystem - Solving the 3D, 4D, and Virtual Reality Needs of Engineering, Society and Culture

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Problem to solve: There is a global trend toward the convergence of physical and virtual worlds. Increasing need for information in future services and decision-making can be supported with 3D, 4D and mixed reality data and analysis. A large number of location-based services and consumer-grade applications will be based on this kind of 3D geospatial data. This information is fundamental in maps, 3D digital cities, concepts of Digital Twins, self-driving car technology (100m cars sold annually), to name but a few examples. Accurate 3D information is also increasingly applied in various engineering tasks, natural sciences, architecture and cultural heritage.
Offered solution: Photogrammetry, laser scanning (LS), and other 3D sensing technologies are the main methods for providing 3D, 4D and virtual reality from point clouds for our living environment, with varying scales, from local to global. Mobile laser scanning (MLS) is one of the main techniques applied today in autonomous driving and autonomous machines, creating virtual reality, street view mapping, corridor surveys (road, powerline, fluvial), and providing 3D geoinformation for decision-making, for culture production and even for entertainment. Capturing urban data with backpack LS was a novel innovation, using various technologies: GNSS/IMU (Global Navigation Satellite System)/IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) positioning, LS, digital pho¬tography and data-driven algorithms for improving the positioning in often GNSS denied urban space. Personal laser scanning (PLS) allows rapid data collection of a complex environment without compromising the data coverage, precision and accuracy of the data. The research aims to develop modern surveying practices, investigate alternative system and sensor layouts and performance related issues, as well as formulate automated data processes for 3D modelling, and seeks methods for improving geometric quality of data and data fusion. With the emergence of consumer-grade 3D sensing, highly automated digital photogrammetry, and novel visualization methods (mixed reality, game engines, browser-based 3D), these technologies have matured to a degree where they can contribute to actions outside the traditional professional domain.
Impact: Research of Aalto/MeMo (joint institute with the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute, FGI) has brought significant societal impact by 1) developing the concept of national elevation modelling with airborne laser scanning (ALS), which is now open data. Today four-fifths of Finland is covered by this dataset. Current model is 50% cheaper to produce than the older product, accuracy is 10 times higher, and it requires only one-third the personnel. The Finnish process has been transferred to Sweden and Estonia, annually saving tens of millions euros. 2) Standwise forest inventory in Finland is based on ALS, research begun by Prof. J. Hyyppä and Prof. H. Hyyppä. The saving for society is about €20-30m per year. We have initiated precision forestry based on individual trees obtained from LS. By 2030, it will be the main global technology to derive forest information for industry. 3) We have been the forerunner in the world in developing new measuring platforms, for example MLS, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and PLS equipped with various mapping sensors. Our technology has led to new startups in Finland, as well as in the USA and Japan.
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