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El mundo al instante

Four more Galileo satellites launched into orbit

Updated with additional details and reaction.

Galileo lifts off Dec12 2017 214x300

Liftoff of Ariane 5 Flight VA240 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou took place at 18:36 UTC on Dec. 12, 2017, carrying Galileo satellites 19–22. (Photo: ESA)

On Dec. 12, four more Galileo satellites headed into space to join the navigation constellation. Galileos 19–22 lifted off aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 18:36 UTC (19:36 CET, 15:36 local time).

After today’s successful launch, only one more launch remains before the Galileo constellation is complete and delivering global coverage.

Separation of the upper stage occurred about nine minutes after liftoff, followed by the first firing of the upper stage.

The first pair of 715-kg satellites was released almost 3 hours 36 minutes after liftoff, while the second pair separated 20 minutes later.

They were released into their target 22,922 km-altitude orbit by the dispenser atop the Ariane 5 upper stage. In the coming days, this quartet will be steered into their final working orbits. There, they will begin around six months of tests — performed by the European Global Navigation Satellite System Agency (GSA) — to check they are ready to join the working Galileo constellation.

This mission brings the Galileo system to 22 satellites. Initial Services began almost a year ago, on Dec. 15, 2016.

“Today’s launch is another great achievement, taking us within one step of completing the constellation,” remarked Jan Wörner, ESA’s director general.

“It is a great achievement of our industrial partners OHB (DE) and SSTL (GB) for the satellites, as well as Thales-Alenia-Space (FR, IT) and Airbus Defense and Space (GB, FR) for the ground segment and all their subcontractors throughout Europe, that Europe now has a formidable global satellite navigation system with remarkable performance.”

Paul Verhoef, ESA’s director of navigation, added, “ESA is the design agent, system engineer and procurement agent of Galileo on behalf of the European Commission. Galileo is now an operating reality, so, in July, operational oversight of the system was passed to the GSA.

“Accordingly, GSA took control of these satellites as soon as they separated from their launcher, with ESA maintaining an advisory role. This productive partnership will continue with the next Galileo launch, by Ariane 5 in mid-2018.

“Meanwhile, ESA is also working with the European Commission and GSA on dedicated research and development efforts and system design to begin the procurement of the Galileo Second Generation, along with other future navigation technologies.”

Next year’s launch of another quartet will bring the 24‑satellite Galileo constellation to the point of completion, plus two orbital spares.

www. - 13 de diciembre del 2017

The Geospatial Contribution to Digital Twins

A Surveyor’s Perspective on Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure Conference 2017


The digitalisation of our world is in full swing. It is transforming the way we live, work, communicate, entertain and are being governed. Construction and infrastructure are also entering the digital era, although there is still a lot of work to do – the sector is lagging behind compared to some others. Bentley Systems plays an important role in the transition to a digital representation of the built environment. The company’s annual Year in Infrastructure Conference, held in Singapore in November of this year, showed that the digital era presents many chances for the geospatial industry. Digitalisation products are often referred to as ‘digital twins’ and, since BIM stores huge amounts of geospatial information, it is the ‘digital DNA’ of construction projects.

As Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems, mentioned at the 2017 event’s press conference, the construction industry is conservative. Bearing in mind that 80% of construction and infrastructure projects are either too expensive or finished too late, the sector had better become aware of the benefits of digitalisation – and fast. A huge improvement in efficiency is on the horizon. However, it would be unfair to only blame the construction world for being too slow. Many solutions that will boost digitalisation come from the geospatial field, so companies in this area should be on the front row and have their seatbelts already fastened. The Year in Infrastructure Conference 2017 visualised where the digital road is heading and how geomatics could contribute.

Digital representation

The role for the geospatial sector can be summarised as supporting firms in their ‘going digital’ strategy. Bentley is obviously doing this, as advancing the construction and infrastructure industry is its core business. However, the solutions delivered by Bentley won’t work without the input provided by surveying and mapping professionals. If innovative software is the engine of digitalisation, geospatial data is its fuel. Digitalisation products are often referred to as ‘digital twins’: 3D reality models that form a digital representation of the built environment, such as construction sites, infrastructure developments, mines, oil & gas fields, power plants, airports and so on. In the same analogy, BIM stores huge amounts of geospatial information, making it the ‘digital DNA’ of construction projects.

The Year in Infrastructure Conference 2017 was held at the amazing Marina Bay Sands venue in Singapore.
The Year in Infrastructure Conference 2017 was held at the amazing Marina Bay Sands venue in Singapore.

Regular and accurate site surveys are crucial in achieving a well-functioning BIM, and the Year in Infrastructure Conference in Singapore provided an overview of numerous projects with a wide variety of geospatial involvement. A project carried out by Jacobs/Zephyr UAS consisted of mapping approximately 70km of a high-speed rail corridor in California and involved a photogrammetric drone survey; the point clouds derived from it were transformed into a digital terrain model. This project is an example of how Bentley products can be advantageously combined with innovative unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology. The UAV made the acquired data available immediately in the desired resolution (ranging from 5cm to 15cm per pixel). Mapping the rail corridor with a satellite or a manned aircraft would have taken weeks if not months, while terrestrial mapping would have been slow and dependent on the availability of a professional. Carried out with ProjectWiseMicrostation and Power RailTrack, the project cost only USD70,000, whereas conventional mapping methods would have cost closer to USD550,000. In other words, UAV mapping achieved a cost reduction of 86%.

Map for self-driving cars

 Another intriguing project consisted of feature extraction technology developed by Sanborn. This technology enables the extraction of transportation objects in a semi-automated manner. Both airborne and mobile Lidar data was captured over the project area with existing control and datasets. The highly accurate data was processed with ContextCapture Center, allowing the quick production of 3D mesh models of the urban environment from Sanborn’s high-precision oblique imagery. The 3D mesh forms the basis of the Sanborn HD Maps urban datasets for self-driving cars. The combination of aerial Lidar and photogrammetry was labelled as ‘Lidargrammetry’, and resulted in enormous amounts of point-cloud data which was merged together using TerraScan in Bentley MicroStation. One advantage of merging point clouds collected from different sensor platforms is that it can fill the gaps for each individual technology. Another major benefit is the ability to extract stationary physical objects related to roadways, such as shoulders, traffic signals, paint markings and poles, which leads to a scalable approach for maintaining highly detailed inventories.

Ray O’Connor, CEO of Topcon, addressed the audience during the Alliance Partner panel discussion.
Ray O’Connor, CEO of Topcon, addressed the audience during the Alliance Partner panel discussion.

Real-time digital twin

A third project that – along with many others – definitely deserves a mention is the development of the Anderson Road Quarry site in Hong Kong, a facility that used to supply the region with aggregate, asphalt, stone and concrete. The vacated quarry is now being transformed into a residential and commercial area, and will accommodate 25,000 citizens. From 2023 onwards, the former quarry will be an urban area that meets all the requirements of the smart city concept. Whereas a traditional survey would have taken more than a month, the quarry was mapped in just one day using a UAV and photogrammetry technology. The reality modelling was carried out with ContextCapture, while the visual animations were done with LumenRT. The result is a real-time, continuously updated digital twin that can be accessed anytime and anywhere, making the reality model available for various stakeholders such as clients, citizens, consultants and contractors. The 3D cadastral boundaries are an interesting geospatial component of the project, which won a Be Inspired Award.

An integrated environment using reality modelling has many advantages; it reduces risks to labourers working on-site, it minimises the time and resources required for planning and monitoring construction progress, and it leads to streamlined workflows which avoid costly reworks.

Infrastructure-geospatial Partnerships

The event was also the ideal occasion to announce significant initiatives that are bringing the geospatial and the building industries closer together. The Bentley-Topcon partnership is a major alliance that will add weight to the integration of geomatics and the construction and infrastructure industry. Topcon and Bentley will collaborate to create the Constructioneering Academy curriculum which will be implemented through existing learning centres located in Livermore, California (Topcon), Houston, Texas, and London, UK (Bentley). These learning centres are aimed at enabling construction industry professionals to learn best practices in constructioneering. The Bentley-Topcon collaboration is set to speed up the digital journey, as is the cooperation between Bentley and Microsoft, with the software giant providing the architecture, engineering & construction (AEC) sector with a vital big data solution.

Be Inspired Awards finalists had the opportunity to present their projects.

In 2016, Bentley and Siemens announced a strategic alliance, the goal of which is to jointly develop solutions to accelerate digitalisation of planning, design and operations for power utilities and industrial power customers. The alliance is focusing on shared contributions towards digital workflows and digital cities. At the Year in Infrastructure Conference 2017, the audience was provided with an update on the various joint development projects underway – projects that are built on the continued collaborative work done between Siemens and Bentley, converging Bentley’s BIM and reality modelling software with Siemens’ product design and production process engineering solutions.

GeoSLAM is the new kid on the block among Bentley’s partners. At the conference, it was announced that the British 3D geospatial solution provider and Bentley are joining forces to take mobile reality modelling indoors. The aim is to enable the simple and fast production of hybrid reality models in any environment. It will be interesting to keep an eye on this collaboration to see what is possible with both ContextCapture and ZEB-REVO.


In a construction or infrastructure project, a digital twin is very beneficial in terms of saving time and money. Abnormalities, damages and changes will be detected sooner, which means that action can be taken at an earlier stage. This makes it essential for the AEC sector to embrace digitalisation, and that’s good news for the mapping and surveying profession. It is clear that BIM and reality modelling open up intriguing opportunities for surveyors. Geospatial information is so strongly connected to BIM that it must feel very familiar and convenient to geospatial professionals. Bearing in mind the recent debate about the future of the surveyor, perhaps we should wonder whether the nature of that discussion hasn’t been too negative so far.

For a closer look at the new solutions provided and presented by Bentley Systems, see


BIM may have been a buzzword for the past couple of years, but some geomatics professionals still seem unsure about what exactly it encompasses. In short, building information modelling (BIM) is a process in which an intelligent 3D model is created and used to make decisions for projects and to communicate them. It is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of places. Building information models are being used for planning, design and construction purposes, and for maintaining assets and infrastructure. BIM is increasingly being used by construction firms, but there is still much to improve.

www. - 13 de diciembre del 2017

Lidar-based Mobile Mapping for Accurate Documentation of Work Zones along Transportation Corridors

740d93847c342b09f154e2b7ef9dfae6a8da9026Mobility of people and goods plays an important role in providing economic and social opportunities and benefits. Improving the efficiency and safety of transportation corridors is critical for realising such benefits. Therefore, maintaining and expanding such infrastructure are among the key priorities of federal and state transportation agencies. Mobile mapping systems equipped with Lidar units can rapidly collect spatial data in work zone areas without affecting traffic.

The availability of digital maps with road characteristics such as lane marking, lane width, signage, curvature and grade is crucial for driver assistance systems, road safety evaluation, risk assessment, traffic accident reduction and infrastructure monitoring. The United States Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reported that 47,758 injuries occurred in work zone crashes during 2013 (FHWA, 2017). Efficient work zone monitoring and inspection plays a critical role in decreasing traffic accidents and congestion. Lane width and geometry evaluation are important aspects of road safety inspection of work zones. For example, a narrow lane will increase the probability of severe accidents. Narrow shoulders, presence of guardrails, poor signage, short tapers, encroaching construction barrels and/or confusing lane markings can further exacerbate traffic congestion in work zones.

Mobile mapping systems (MMSs) equipped with light detection and ranging (Lidar) units can rapidly collect spatial data in work zone areas without affecting traffic (Figure 1). Geometric and semantic road characteristics can then be derived from the acquired point cloud and images for risk assessment. Acquired Lidar data by wheel-based MMSs can be used for deriving lane width values as well as other characteristics (e.g. shoulder width, signage clearance, construction barrel alignment and encroachment, invisible lane markers, improper lane markers and potential debris/rubble on shoulders). These capabilities can be even enhanced by integrating Lidar data with digital images captured by the MMS.

Integrated global navigation satellite systems and inertial navigation systems (GNSSs/INSs) with laser scanning/ranging units can derive accurate point clouds with high point density along the driven corridors. In addition to the spatial coordinates of the laser beam footprints, the system also provides intensity data that represents the reflectivity of the scanned objects in the waveband associated with the Lidar unit. The intensity data for transportation arteries is quite useful when compared with other Lidar mapping projects (airborne mapping) due to the high reflectivity of several features along the road network such as lane markers, guiding/warning signage, construction barrels, etc. (Figure 2). The geometric accuracy and the intensity of acquired point clouds can be used to automatically extract several features such as lane markers, which can be then used to derive the lane width. Lane capacity in terms of vehicles per lane per hour depends on the lane width, shoulder width and truck volume. A short road segment with substandard lane width will significantly reduce the lane capacity (Figure 3). MMSs equipped with Lidar units provide a safe and accurate modality for accurate estimation of lane width without affecting the traffic, especially in work zones where great care should be exercised to enhance traffic flow.

www. - 13 de diciembre del 2017

Javad GNSS offers spoofing alert for surveyors

Javad SpooferBusters

Spoofing — the generation of false and misleading GPS signals by “bad actors” — is becoming an increasing problem for all GPS users, and surveyors just as much as everyone else should be knowledgable and take countermeasures.

Javad GNSS has announced that spoofer detection is now available on all of its OEM boards. If the receivers equipped with such boards detect more than one correlation peak for any PRN code, they warn the user of the presence of spoofing (false signals) and identify the spoofed satellites.

The receivers then switch to other signals and sensors that are not being spoofed, to maintain accurate positioning. The user can also employ the receiver to try to identify the direction from which the spoofing signals are originating.

www. - 07 de diciembre del 2017

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