Our last blog post explored why Reality Computing is particularly well suited for civil infrastructure projects. The next several posts will look at the three components of Reality Computing—capture, compute, and create—through the lens of a civil engineer.
Capturing the physical world
For civil infrastructure projects, the physical world is usually digitally captured using photogrammetry, ground penetrating radar, or 3D laser scanning. New capture capabilities are being introduced in ever more varied devices, such as scanners or digital cameras mounted on drones.
Some of these data capture techniques have been used for decades to produce high-resolution models, but were cost prohibitive for most projects. In the past several years, new technology (in the form of both hardware and software) makes capturing the physical world less expensive and time consuming. For example, 3D laser scanning (also called LiDAR) is a relatively new technology that is quickly becoming an infrastructure industry standard for collecting data. The accuracy and sheer quantity of the data, and the speed at which it can be gathered, is opening up new possibilities in a sector that has been technologically stagnant for many years. Though many design and construction firms outsource data capture services, there is a growing trend for insourcing these capabilities as the technology becomes more accessible and no longer requires specialty firms or training.
3D laser scanning is quickly becoming an infrastructure industry standard for collecting data. Airborne laser scanning is used to capture 3D data for large areas, such as urban areas, industrial plants, or large transportation or land development projects.