How Scripting Transforms Workflow Automation in Cyclone 3DR
From Field to Finished with Scripting
In the past, data collection was cumbersome and time-consuming – and that was before the analysis. But now, surveyors and engineers can analyse data in real-time from anywhere in the world, enabling them to make informed decisions at the click of a button. This is because we’ve taken complex problems and solved them with user-friendly digital reality tools, so 3D data can be captured and managed with total reliability.
One example is Leica Cyclone 3DR – the all-in-one deliverable solution – which has streamlined the data analysis process and transformed the way surveyors and 3D experts make on-the-spot decisions. Over the past year, Cyclone 3DR has been upgraded to make scripting even easier, with enhanced interfaces and high-definition visuals.
In this expert insight, the second in our series on Scripting in Cyclone 3DR, Yannick Stenger asks R-E-A-L.IT’s Olivier Côté to explain the main benefits of using scripting with Cyclone 3DR, how easy Olivier finds the process and how deliverables can be presented, as well as highlighting use cases for scripting based on applications by R-E-A-L.IT’s clients.
What are scripts? And what are the benefits of using them in Cyclone 3DR?
Even if there is a proficient team using Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS or Cyclone 3DR, there is no comparison to an automated version of that workflow. If there is a standard, repeatable workflow, it makes sense to automate the process because it will save time. Another advantage of using scripts is the fact they are completely repeatable.
For example, when scripts are automated, the possibility of human error is eliminated. It is a deterministic way to resolve algorithms. When this approach is applied to completely repetitive processes, the output becomes reliable. This gives customers confidence because the output is achieved automatically within Cyclone 3DR regardless of who is using the software. Being able to manage 3D data with total reliability is a key advantage of using scripts in Cyclone 3DR.
How easy is it to create scripts? And how can the deliverables be presented?
Another benefit to highlight is the Application Programming Interface (API), which is well-built and intuitive to use. It is well structured and presented, making it easier to optimise code, and the features are accessible and easy to implement. For example, if a user is unsure of how to approach a specific challenge, they can use the API help function and search for a way to make the algorithm functional. In this way, it is robust yet simple to use.
There is a degree of flexibility in terms of the way the deliverable is presented, as it depends on what the customer wants to achieve. In the example highlighted in the case study, we created a video by taking different images of the street-level infrastructure elements to create a rotational overview. We can also take the analogue value and create a video or generate reports in a CSV file written from 3DR script.
What are some of the best experiences you've had with Cyclone 3DR so far?
When we were dealing with a very complex scripted process, we were facing performance limitations. When we upgraded to Cyclone 3DR 2023.1, we found a solution thanks to the API improvement. This enabled the script to be much faster than before so, instead of using Amazon Cloud to view 1,000 points, it increased to 1,200 points.
We found using GPU enables Cyclone 3DR to run faster compared to resolving issues within the CPU. Another element is the ability to simplify complex functions. For example, my script would take input from a point cloud, but if I want to launch it through a Python script that launched through Cyclone 3DR, I can’t break the point. However, if I comment on that section when the script is in the release version, I can easily access it when I’m developing or debugging, I just uncomment it.
One aspect we appreciate is the opportunity to have direct contact with the team behind the products: the product management team and the software developers. If I had a question about an everyday piece of software for example, I wouldn’t expect someone to contact me directly, whereas the Cyclone 3DR crew is always willing to share their experience and recommendations.
Can you provide an example or case study of how custom scripts are automating repetitive processes to streamline R-E-A-L.IT's client projects?
A client of R-E-A-L.IT needed to quickly and effectively measure street-level infrastructure elements and produce an automated report deliverable outlining the quality of the materials and any degradation that had occurred over time and with extensive use.
The aim of the tailored solution was to transform the flow of data autonomously, so raw data could be processed and easily viewed on Amazon Cloud.
R-E-A-L.IT created a Python script flow to automate Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS and then launched the Cyclone 3DR script analysis. The script took the point cloud data and scanned the elements to determine their condition. This deep-dive analysis took place within Cyclone 3DR and automatically flagged whether the element would meet the quality standards based on the parameters set.
To enhance the data collection process, Olivier used Cyclone 3DR to create a 360° video of the elements by taking several images and assembling them outside of Cyclone 3DR, which was sent to the customer.
As well as successfully meeting the original aim, the solution resulted in the client establishing a new division within the company dedicated to this role – using various specialized tripods and the Leica RTC360 3D Laser Scanner to scan the requested elements and produce a deliverable they can give to their customer.
With the push of a button, the process is automated from field to finish. Not only does this give the customer peace of mind, but it enables them to undertake a visual inspection and use the report as evidence for the work they are undertaking.
The customer perspective:
Our [R-E-A-L.IT] customer was very enthusiastic about the technology. When R-E-A-L.IT initially began working on the project, it was small in scope with one script and analysis. But when the customer realised the script would work, they increased the scope to include other elements. R-E-A-L.IT listened to their customer to determine their needs and created a tailored solution – there was no specification to follow.
In conclusion, if you could describe Cyclone 3DR scripting in one word, what would it be?
R.E.A.L-IT is a premier distributor of reality capture technology in the USA and Canada. The company specialises in creating custom solutions for clients in a broad range of industries, from manufacturing to architecture, engineering to construction. The team has a wealth of experience, with some individuals using both Leica Geosystems hardware and software for over fifteen years.
For reality capture projects, the company utilises Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS or Cyclone 3DR, with the emphasis being placed on Cyclone 3DR for scripting. The reason for this is that, often, customers approach the company with niche problems, and this approach enables them to develop a solution tailored to their specific needs.
Are you ready to transform the way you use Cyclone 3DR and realise its true potential? Visit the Cyclone 3DR GitHub page to find and share scripts from Leica Geosystems and other users.
Product Manager, Leica Cyclone 3DR
Reality Capture Division