Digital Content is growing at an incredible pace. A fundamental way to keep track, organize and identify data is by temporal attributes and geo-location. This is not new. The oldest records of the human race we know (cave paintings) refer to a certain location and time (season).
The mobile phone no doubt has been the single biggest technology game changer in recent times for the geospatial industry. With the availability of digital content almost everywhere and anytime, geo-located data was soaked up by the mass market. The rising awareness of geo-content led to transformation of the geospatial industry (and it is still in transition) from a special service industry to one of the fundamental data providers for digital content.
It can be discussed whether we face a cumulating third revolution or if the digital information age qualifies for a Fourth Industrial Revolution. Whatever it is called in the end, we can’t deny the way digital information and its consumption has significantly changed the way we spend our work-life today.
Situation awareness is the key
Location is key for a number of different aspects of this industrial revolution. Situation awareness of autonomously driving/flying/acting machines will be an enabling factor when it comes to efficiency, safety, and capability. This applies to different scales from high-accuracy, high-resolution 3D indoor surveying (for example, factory level automatic line operation) to wide are outdoor mapping for navigation of vehicles. Quick and comprehensive acquisition of the environment in 3D is of utmost importance for robotic assembly lines, autonomous stock room management and autonomous transportation at any scale.
“Quick, comprehensive acquisition of the environment in 3D is of utmost importance for robotic assembly lines, autonomous transportation.”
High-quality surveying data acquired beforehand and with dedicated surveying instruments forms a sound baseline for autonomous navigation of vehicles with their multitude of comparatively low-grade sensors. The real-time data is compared to the reference data and thus safe and smooth navigation is achieved.
UAVs, a significant development
The introduction of UAVs in the geospatial sector has been quite a remarkable development. UAVs have been around for many years but performance, price and form factor have prevented the entrance into the price competitive survey/geospatial area. RIEGL has been a pioneer in the development and research of new UAV-based platforms fully integrated with tailored LiDAR solutions for these platforms. Significant increases in LiDAR performance (range, accuracy, speed) have increased productivity dramatically and opened up new areas of applications.
To keep up with the developments, the geospatial industry needs to embrace non-geospatial technologies, including communication technology, sensor fusion et al. The way data is processed will change — data is no longer fed into software but the software will be moved to data for processing. In terms of hardware, sensor fusion and connected sensors will drive the technology breakthroughs. On the software side, I see mass data processing, increase of Cloud computing, deep learning and AI-based technologies playing a significant role.
Push for innovation
Constant change is needed to develop new technologies and advancements to make steps forward to change the world. Historically, RIEGL has been at the forefront of technology and is a pioneer in the geospatial industry. It is in our company culture and DNA to constantly push for new technological advancements.
In the next three to five years, we plan to further blur the lines and push the boundaries for new innovations. We see a worldwide market expansion happening for our organization with production capacity increases due to new facilities planned in both Austria and the United States. These expansions will put RIEGL in a position to continue to come up with the most sophisticated LiDAR hardware and software for the industry (design, develop, and to manufacture).