Laser scanning entails sweeping a laser beam over an area or object and recording millions of 3D points. These points are imported into a CAD or 3D application software and displayed on a computer monitor as a “point cloud”. The point cloud has photographic characteristics portrayed in one-color, gray-scale, false-color or even true color.
Terrestrial laser scanning provides highly accurate, three-dimensional point cloud “images”. These data sets allow designers, architects, engineers and the project owners to review and work directly with real-world conditions by viewing and manipulating rich point-clouds in computer-aided design software. As the point clouds are 3D, the data can be viewed, navigated, measured and analyzed as a 3D model.
How does it work?
Typically, millions of points make up a point cloud. A scanner is set up at a particular location and all of the objects that are directly visible from the scanner are measured.
Several scanner locations may be needed in order to fully record the plant, room, building, structure or object that is being scanned without any details being hidden.
The individually measured point clouds can be joined together and registered to a common coordinate system. This could be a local construction system or a global (mapping plane) system. The denser the points, the more the point cloud looks like a photograph.
What can it be used for?
The point cloud is a true to scale 3D representation of the scene. It can be imported to many CAD software packages or certain features can be modeled or extracted as points and lines and taken to a CAD software.
The point clouds can be meshed and the high resolution color photography can be draped over the mesh to provide a virtual reality scenario or just as a background for asset management.