Measure What You See — How New GNSS Technology is Helping Surveyors Improve Efficiency


Author: Anne Pitkaenen

Many variables can complicate a surveyor’s job. Measuring a point where the view to the sky is limited can be difficult. Surveyors often face a race against time to survey a site before the first foundations are laid.

Improving efficiency is often the first step toward a more profitable business. Whatever challenges you face on-site, relying on fast and accurate surveying equipment helps overcome hurdles easily.

Capturing hard-to-access or obstructed points

Hard-to-access points are as much a part of a surveyor’s job as hard hats and high-vis clothing. Tackling them often requires additional equipment, which can complicate things and slow you down.

You might, for example, need to map a point of interest on the other side of a busy road. Crossing roads safely is difficult, and blocking the traffic consumes time at the site. Another common challenge is obstructed points. Take, for instance a point under an overhanging canopy. Without a view to the open sky, measuring with a traditional GNSS rover will be a challenge.

In most cases, and with most conventional RTK rovers, you have little choice but to measure the point using additional equipment such as a total station or a DISTO™.

There’s nothing wrong with this approach. It works. But the additional equipment needed means more to transport between sites, longer set-up and processing times and extra costs — all of which slows you down.

With its integrated camera, the new Leica GS18 I makes this process far simpler. When faced with a hard-to-reach point, like our canopy example, there’s no need to try and reach it with other means. The GS18 I allows you to walk alongside the structure capturing images as you go. These images are used to measure survey-grade points, which can be further processed into a point cloud. Also, the GS18 I automatically defines the position and orientation of the images, making them ready to use for measuring instantly in the field.

Measuring hundreds of points in minutes

Accurately mapping hundreds of points, whether the entire façade of a building or several pipes crossing in a trench, can be time consuming. This is particularly true if the tool you use measures the structure point-by-point, as is the case with some conventional RTK rovers.

The GS18 I is capable of capturing the site in images as you walk. These images can be used in the field or office for measuring points in them. This means even vast structures, which would typically have taken hours to measure can be captured much more quickly and efficiently. Also, you never miss measuring a point.

You don’t have to return to the site to measure additional points because you can measure them from the images even when new needs for points arise.

In the office, points can be measured with Leica Infinity office software conveniently on a larger screen. Office time is, in general, less expensive than time on site — there are no disturbances and frustrations from weather and fewer risks.

Viewing data on site

Some imaging GNSS systems don’t allow you to review what you are doing on site. Those systems that use a GNSS together with a camera but don’t have Visual Positioning technology, like in the GS18 I, often require processing back at the office before it can be used for measuring. This means waiting to return to base to check whether you’ve captured everything correctly.

This just isn’t practical. If you’re visiting multiple sites in a day, you need to be able to review and upload work on the go and ensure you have everything you need before continuing to the next job. Anything else risks multiple site visits to correct errors, having a negative impact on your productivity.

The GS18 I approaches this more efficiently. When you use the GS18 I’s Visual Positioning, it automatically defines the position and orientation of the images, making them ready to use for measurement. Also, there is no need to pick a point across multiple images — the GS18 I automatically matches the point. All you need to do is pick the point and hit measure to compute coordinates instantly.

This means no waiting until you’re back at base to check whether you have mapped everything you need and the quality matches the project requirements. With the GS18 I, everything is available instantly. So, you can access the quality of the results on-site and leave the rest of the measuring for the large screens back at the office.

Points can be reviewed at the scene, cutting down the risk of mistakes. You don’t need to return to site to correct mistakes or delay a project while you wait to return to the office.

GNSS to empower your business

Surveyors will probably always face complications in their projects, but the right technology certainly makes things easier. Visual Positioning technology is providing access to many points that were previously unreachable with a conventional GNSS rover alone. And, with the GS18 I, surveyors now have a simpler, faster more efficient tool for handling whatever they encounter on site.

Tackling inefficiency in your surveying business starts with your equipment. And the GS18 I provides an answer to many of the common problems that cause it. Get everything you need to start transforming your business in a single, easy-to-use device.

What is Leica GS18 I?

The Leica GS18 I is the most versatile survey-grade GNSS RTK rover, allowing you to measure remote points from images or to measure with the pole tip. It has all the same functionalities as GS18 T but with added Visual Positioning technology. Visual Positioning technology, sensor-fusion combining GNSS, IMU and a camera allows users to reach previously inaccessible or obstructed points safely and efficiently.

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