Chartered Surveyor and one of the directors of Maltby Land Surveys Ltd. Andrew Maltby presents his overview of UNDET Toolbox V2.1 the latest software release that is helping smooth workflow from Point Cloud to Vector Drawing.
On the 8th November 2011, Bentley Systems announced that it had acquired Pointools, until then, a neutral provider of point cloud software technology. Almost overnight their plugins for AutoCAD, Rhino and Sketchup disappeared off the face of the earth along with their imminent plans to launch their long awaited Revit plugin. For three years, Maltby Surveys, amongst many others I’m sure, trawled cyberspace searching for a worthy replacement. AutoCAD labs looked promising between versions 12 and 13. They previewed pointcloud tools with some real bite but sadly failed to make the release version and have since disappeared. Instead it seems pointcloud development funding has been channelled into Recap which despite its glossy cover doesn’t really cut it for surveyors. Most other applications either offer the earth or cost the earth or both and yet, in our opinion, fail to deliver what is really required in terms of usable tools to produce measured surveys from pointcloud data.
At last, a breath of fresh air in the form of UNDET ToolBox 2.1 the latest release of an application that has been developed over the course of the last three years by a company with a software history dating back to 1997. Hidden at the Geographical centre of Europe this Lithuanian software developer has been quietly going about their business – until now that is with Maltby Surveys being the first UK company to purchase their network licence.
UNDET ToolBox 2.1 , taking its name from the powerful leaf cutting ant above, is a plug-in for AutoCAD and its vertical products that facilitates evaluation, visualization, processing and advanced modelling of point clouds. It provides excellent value for users who want to work efficiently with point clouds in AutoCAD and speed up as-built documentation for multiple laser scanning tasks. Some key features include:- meshing & texture mapping; auto sectioning and profiling; automated feature extraction; deformation analysis & ortho imaging; true scan view navigation shows the scanner centric view for intuitive modelling.
Maltby Surveys were commissioned to carry out a Laser Scanning project at the National Space Centre, Leicester . It is the UK’s largest visitor attraction dedicated to space and space exploration, welcoming around a quarter of a million visitors each year since its opening in June 2001. The National Space Centre was the brainchild of the University of Leicester, with support from Leicester City Council. It was the subject of a joint bid to the Millennium Commission as a Landmark Millennium Project for the East Midlands. Having trialled UNDET for several months we decided to purchase the software and make this our first live UNDET Project. The transition from Pointools Model was fairly painless and two dimensional plans and sections were derived in a similar time frame to Pointools, even at the first attempt.
“UNDET’s roots stem from practising surveyors with a firm grasp on surveying principles. Its refreshing to have access to software developers that have a clear understanding of what surveyors need”
The project consisted of only 33 scan locations and was collected over the course of one day with a FARO Focus 120. The point resolution was set at 6mm @ 10m range. Scans were registered in Scene 5.3 and output as E57 files. UNDET imports data from a variety of formats including E57, FLS, LSPROJ, PTS, ZFS, LAS, CL3, CLR ,RSP and virtually any XYZ format including all LIDAR data formats with Intensity or RGB. There are four project import types LIDAR, Topography, Buildings or Heritage which govern the decimation of the cloud prior to creating view sections. This allows for rapid navigating around the model. Individual scans can be named and grouped into logical sets such as external, ground, first, roof etc to help maintain an efficient workflow.
The concept of creating view sections is a simple yet very powerful tool to isolate your working area and permit access to the full point cloud. A traffic light system gives notification of availability of further points. As you would expect, you have complete control over scan point display colour from true scan colours, through intensity to greyscale. The user can even define their own bespoke intensity range to control additional visual display depending on the reflective properties of the scanned object. Trueview Scan is a mode which allows a unique facility to view the scan data directly from the scan position. This is a great tool for novice users as it allows the user to navigate in a intuitive way. Wall, floor and ceiling planes can be extracted as 3d plane objects enabling the rapid creation of wireframe models. This assists the creation of Building Information Models or 3D CAD Models used in the context of Rights of Light analysis.
Extraction of meshes is very impressive and although volumetric analysis is not within the toolbox, we understand it is possible. Rationalised surfaces can be easily transferred to well established DTM software such as LSS. Recently developed tools allow for the set up of deformation tolerances and production of deformation maps. Interrogate deformation values directly on the image and print or simply save and share. Additionally, true and projected ortho images can be generated directly from the pointcloud. Any user, surveyor and client alike dealing with point clouds whether in Architecture and Construction, Heritage, Archaeology, Civil Engineering or Land Surveying will I’m sure benefit from UNDET ToolBox 2.1.
Currently, we have only touched the surface and are still exploring, but there appear to be plenty more features to get excited about. UNDET developers are also AUTODESK Gold Partners and as such are available to resell AUTODESK products in the EU. Readers wanting more information should go online to their website www.undet.com or call them on their direct UK line 020 3695 3526.