Vexcel Corporation, a provider in precision urban mapping products and services, has been commissioned by the US Navy to design a system to provide fully automated extraction of 3D urban models from data collected by commercial satellites and other imaging devices. The models will highlight precise placement of cultural features such as buildings, streets, and terrain characteristics, and will collectively provide a database that the Navy can use for mission planning and training. Automating manual processes currently used to generate such models, will reduce the associated production time from several weeks or months to days or even just a few hours, depending on the detail of the image. Vexcel was chosen based on its experience in 3D models and cultural feature databases, its existing extraction technology and system design. With the completion of the system design and possible ensuing prototype, Vexcel anticipates that the Navy and other branches of the Department of Defense will seek to leverage the new technology to expand detailed map coverage of strategically important international venues as well domestic urban environments to support Homeland Security efforts.
Automating the process will significantly reduce the time, and hence the cost, of creating detailed and textured feature databases, making them available to a variety of potential commercial markets that could include urban and environmental planning, wireless planning, security applications, and commercial flight and drive simulation. The key requirement for the system is the inclusion of built-in quality assessment tools to monitor the extraction process and analyze the results for reliability. Vexcel anticipates a six to eight-month design phase for the system. Implementation and delivery of the system may require up to an additional two years.