Delivering Value From LiDAR System Data
Certainty 3D News
Recent news about Certainty 3D Products and Services. Click on the icon to the right to subscribe to the Certainty 3D RSS feed.

March 04, 2013 - ASPRS Seminar

Certainty 3D will be having a seminar meeting at ASPRS 2013 on Monday, March 25th, 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM.

The seminar will be covering:

  • Managing projects based on data type

  • Assessing data & control quality

  • Extracting quality topographies and models

Seminar agenda and registration is available here: click here
Posted at 04:14 PM in: General

October 19, 2012 - Certainty 3D Offers Free TopoPLANNER Web App

Certainty 3D’s new free Web App version of the popular TopoPLANNER will be introduced this week. Hundreds of companies successfully use the free download of TopoPLANNER to accurately lay out scan positions, control survey networks as well as estimate schedule and cost for laser scanning project. Now TopoPLANNER is a web-based application and available to those potential users who could not download and install software on their desktop workstations. You’ll find the link to TopoPLANNER here:

Years of field experience for civil infrastructure applications were exploited by the Certainty 3D team in the development of TopoPLANNER. TopoPLANNER is very user-friendly, intuitive and applicable to any static LiDAR system. Several hundred current users can attest to the utility of TopoPLANNER for outdoor laser scanning applications. Simply input the correct LiDAR scanner operating parameters such as time per scan, range to control target, height of scanner from ground into the TopoPLANNER system table along with hourly field costs. Then quickly and accurately estimate project layouts, schedules and costs. Share this project internally and with customers.


TopoPLANNER Highlights

TopoPLANNER is intuitive and easy to learn. Using TopoPLANNER to plan a typical roadway LiDAR survey illustrates just some of its operational highlights.

Background Aerials

Use publically available aerials as your project background. Select the type of map and the project location.


Survey Reference Control Plan

Lay out the reference control network along roadway. TopoDOT will accept a distance between reference targets and provide a circle of that radius for reference. Place the control in unobstructed areas, easily accessible with a clear line of sight to expected scanner positions.


TopoPLANNER accepts the expected time per survey control point as a parameter, 10 minutes in this case (RTK plus level run), a realistic distance between control reference targets and the hourly operating cost for the field team.

System Configuration

This data combined with the expected control layout will yield the cost and time for implementing the reference survey control plan.

Control Cost

LiDAR Scanning Plan

Once control is established, TopoPLANNER accepts the scan position layout. Begin by inputting the expected operating parameters for your scanner. This requires a bit of experience and thought. First keep in mind that the expected scan time encompasses the “entire” operation and not simply scanning time alone. So input a scan time that includes transport, setup, target acquisition, image acquisition, and QA/QC on the position, etc. The best way to do this is simply consider how many scans the operator typically acquires in a full day and divide by that time.

System Configuration

TopoPLANNER accepts three scan times as our field experience has shown that scan positions do not all require the same amount of time. For example, busy intersections with traffic signals will typically take longer than open road positions next to moving traffic. So TopoPLANNER provides three levels of scan times for planning.

Scanner coverage is represented by a circle overlay with the scanner at the center. Note that coverage is “derived” by scanner height and “not” the range of the scanner itself. This range is calculated as the scanner beam being about 5 degrees off parallel to the road surface. This will be the effective range of the scanner down the road.

Once parameters have been entered, simply place at the desired position in TopoPLANNER. Assure the edges of the circle are touching and that the “realities” of the project site such as obstructions, driveways, intersections, etc. have been taken into account and the scanner placed accordingly.

Placing Scans

Note also that TopoPLANNER will place a vector from the scan position to any targets within a specified range. This is also very useful for planning control and assuring that each scan position will have an unobstructed line of site to the reference target. A word of caution is that typically scanners on tripods will not be able to locate targets across a busy roadway due to the constant flow of traffic obstructing the line of site.


As was the case with the survey reference target control locations, an hourly cost is associated with each scan position. So that once the scanner positions and reference target locations have been placed, TopoPLANNER offers an estimate of scanning time and cost for this project.

Total Cost

TopoPLANNER is a powerful tool for estimating LiDAR scanning project costs and schedules. Moreover TopoPLANNER can be used to evaluate equipment selection by comparing operational costs between different terrestrial LiDAR scanners. For example, is the lower productivity of a less expensive but slower system justified if operational costs will increase? TopoPLANNER can assist in making these assessments also.

Certainty 3D is pleased to make TopoPLANNER available as a free web application to the LiDAR community. The Certainty 3D team welcomes any feedback on TopoPLANNER or any other LiDAR technology topics. Finally keep an eye out for the upcoming TopoMISSION web application designed for terrestrial mobile LiDAR project planning.
Posted at 04:17 PM in: General

September 11, 2012 - TopoDOT Heads to the Annual IHEEP Conference with Ten DOT Customers

Caltrans, West Virginia and Ohio have recently joined seven other U.S. state transportation departments (DOTs) using TopoDOT for processing LiDAR data from tripod, mobile and airborne systems. Other state transportation departments using TopoDOT include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Virginia and Wisconsin. Certainty 3D was pleased to add New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services as the latest Australian agency to use TopoDOT. Other foreign agencies using TopoDOT include Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation department in Canada and Queensland Department of Transport in Australia.

“TopoDOT’s adoption by Caltrans, West Virginia and Ohio speaks well of its proven performance amongst our earlier DOT users,” said Ted Knaak, president of Certainty 3D. “TopoDOT usage continues to increase among state DOTs as LiDAR is having a very positive impact on productivity and return on investment across operations. We look forward to sharing some exciting case studies with bottom line results at this month’s IHEEP Conference being held in Montgomery, AL.”
Posted at 11:36 AM in: General

May 03, 2012 - TopoDOT Extends Reach to Seventh State DOT

The Alabama Department of Transportation has purchased TopoDOT software from Certainty 3D, making it the seventh U.S. state transportation department to adopt the popular software program within the past year. Other state transportation departments using TopoDOT include Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Virginia and Wisconsin. The software is also being used by the Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation department in Canada and by the Queensland Department of Transport in Australia.

“TopoDOT’s rapid adoption by transportation agencies is not unexpected,” said Ted Knaak, president of Certainty 3D. "As a MicroStation application offering a comprehensive tool suite for LiDAR system data processing, TopoDOT is uniquely well positioned within the civil infrastructure market. Given the tough economic times, our customers also appreciate TopoDOT’s low cost and free web based training programs.”

Original Article here: Point Of Beginning
Posted at 12:23 PM in: General

April 09, 2012 - Under the LiDAR

New technology is taking cost, time and uncertainty out of highway design. For Virginians, this quiet revolution means less traffic disruption, lower costs and faster turn-around times on big projects.

by James A. Bacon

Last fall Fluor Transurban was negotiating a contract with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to build or upgrade 29 miles of express lanes on Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia. It was critical to get a better handle on how much the roughly $1 billion project would cost. To help out, the consortium hired HNTB, a Kansas City-based engineering firm, and Dayton-based Woolpert, a geospatial firm, to conduct a preliminary design.

Normally, a job like this would require a sub-contractor to assign dozens of surveyors to develop a detailed topographical map of the route. The job would take months as survey teams worked down miles of highway, making tedious measurements every step of the way. Traffic would have to be diverted, and the safety of the surveyors would be an ever-present concern. Frequently, the engineers would have to dispatch surveyors back into the field to take more measurements, creating delays. It wasn’t a pretty process.

But Fluor Transurban got a much faster turn-around because HNTB and Woolpert embraced a fast-evolving technology known as LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). Invisible, pulsed laser beams emanating from rotating mirrors can acquire up to 1 million precise distance measurements per second of the roadway and surroundings. The resulting data, a “point cloud,” provides precise 3D digital images of the scene. Cameras mounted next to the LiDAR scanners acquire thousands of high-resolution 2D color images of the same terrain.

“LiDAR is faster and safer, and it’s better quality,” says Paul DiGiacobbe, director of strategic technology-incubation for HNTB. “We’re able to respond much more quickly. We’ve got our finger on the pulse much better than in the past.”

First and foremost the LiDAR revolution offers a productivity jump in surveying efficiency. But it also may help VDOT manage routine operations more effectively by making it easier to inventory road conditions. And in the long run, it could have a profound impact by supporting a strategic shift from conventional highway contracting methods to a design-build paradigm.

Traditionally, VDOT designed projects in-house and then put the jobs up for bid. Taking place in sequential steps, work took a long time and was subject to cost overruns. Under design-build, the contractor can perform design and construction work simultaneously, which cuts time and costs. The ability to compress construction schedules potentially could save Virginia taxpayers tens, even hundreds, of millions of dollars in the years ahead.

For Fluor Transurban, estimating the cost of the upgraded Interstate was a complex task. Plans call for reversible High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes running 29 miles along I-95 south of the Capital Beltway. Under a preliminary agreement negotiated with the commonwealth of Virginia, Fluor Transurban will convert existing High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to HOT lanes, extend the express lanes down the Interstate median, widen some lanes and make a variety of other improvements.

Gathering the data was made significantly more efficient by the use of mobile data-collection techniques. The Woolpert team set up “tie points,” or registration points, at intervals along I-95 so the LiDAR data could be properly aligned. After that, a single van with an Optech LYNX Mobile Mapper mounted in the back bed drove up and down I-95 at highway speeds. The disruption to traffic was minimal. Surveyors minimized their exposure to speeding cars and trucks. Working within existing HOV lanes access patterns and other construction activities, Woolpert took only four days to finish.

Woolpert’s eight-person technical team used its TopoDOT™ software to extract critical information and develop 3D models for downstream engineering and design operations. TopoDOT™ is an application for MicroStation™ software, which is used by a majority of roadway design engineers.

“TopoDOT™’s function is delivering value from LiDAR system data,” says Certainty 3D President Ted Knaak, whose company created the software. “The problem with point cloud and pictures is that there really isn’t much intelligence associated with the data. Think about a digital image. Step back and look at the entire image, and you know what is exactly in the picture. Look at just a few pixels up close and, absent the context of the entire picture, you don’t know what they are. TopoDOT™ thus provides the tools for the technician to recognize and extract the intelligent 3D CAD model from the data.”

Continue reading this article on Bacon's Rebellion
Posted at 04:58 PM in: General


Software Updates





Project Downloads:
PDF Interstate 5
PDF U.S.A.C.E. Dam Lock
PDF I-495/I-66 Interchange
PDF Transmission Substation
View All
Video Link / Downloads:
PDF Waldorf Astoria Flythrough
PDF TopoPLANNER Overview
PDF REY I-5 Flythrough
PDF Route 7 Demo
View All
Home | Products | Free Project Planning Apps | Media Center | About Us | Contact Us | C3D University | Certainty 3D News

Phone (407) 248-0160 | Fax (407) 641-9062 |