[OSM-talk] Laser scanning

Andy Robinson Andy_J_Robinson at blueyonder.co.uk
Fri Mar 31 11:22:51 BST 2006

I've had some involvement in the past couple of years with laser scanning
technology to produce wire frame "images" of structures, mainly underground.
As part of the trials I was doing I looked at a relatively new system that
scans the surroundings of railway permanent ways. This technology and
approach could be applied to any type of way, and I'm thinking streets.

It strikes me that while OSM's main function is street level mapping and
that we are not trying to compete with the likes of the OS's MasterMap there
would be a lot of benefit in an additional offshoot of OSM that records more
detailed street data.

Typical laser scanning uses up a lot of physical computer power and space
because of the processing extent of the point clouds produced. In fact the
end results these days look almost as clear as actual photographs. However
converting this (or sampling less) to a simple wire frame as nodes and line
segments fits the OSM model very well, albeit in 3 dimensions.

Running a laser scanner off the back of a pickup running down a street might
seem an odd possibility but it's certainly a practical one and we should
keep an eye on developments in this area. The biggest limiting factor at the
moment is cost for the mixture of the scanning hardware (and an appropriate
platform to run it from) and the software to process a mapped output, and I
don't see these ever becoming consumer orientated products.

Laser scanning is being used a great deal at the moment, especially for
archeologically locations and historical buildings so hopefully the
technology will become more mainstream in the future.

Food for thought though.

Anyone else interested in this field?



Andy Robinson
Andy_J_Robinson at blueyonder.co.uk 

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