Image showing real-world measurements within a LiDAR-based digital landscape.
Mobile mapping is the collection of data using a number of technologies working in concert to gather highly accurate data about the surrounding territory. This data is then used to create a 3 dimensional digital landscape of the mapped area, which can be used for various purposes, including asset management and planning applications.
The equipment is mounted on a vehicle suited to the terrain being mapped, and gathers data in various ways as the vehicle is driven, or piloted, through the environment. Different types of data are gathered at one time by a number of different types of sensing equipment, resulting in a wealth of data about the surveyed area from which a detailed, accurate picture can be constructed.
Pointcloud of Dundee waterfront. The Discovery Point building and the masts and rigging of RRS Discovery are clearly visible.
Mobile mapping gathers more data more quickly than more traditional surveying methods, which can take days, or even weeks, involving a whole team of surveyors. The use of LiDAR in particular gives highly detailed data, meaning that measurements taken within the resulting 3 dimensional digital landscape are extremely accurate. The speed, accuracy and movement of data collection equipment easily through an area, makes mobile mapping particularly suitable for large scale projects which need detailed data gathered about a large area.
The technologies typically used in mobile mapping are a camera or cameras, 3D LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) scanning equipment, global positioning equipment and an inertial measurement unit. The camera provides images or video of the area in a format humans are used to reading, which then provides a reference when exploring the digital landscape created from the LiDAR data. The global positioning equipment and inertial measurement equipment provide geospatial accuracy, keeping track of where the mapping vehicle is on the earth’s surface.
Mobile mapping offers significant advance over traditional survey methods, and the richness and versatility of the data gathered opens up endless possibilities for how it might be used. As technology advances and data handling capabilities continue to improve, mobile mapping is set to become a usual practice for applications where large scale and detailed data is a requirement.