University of Oulu

Niskanen, I., Immonen, M., Makkonen, T. et al. Trench visualisation from a semiautonomous excavator with a base grid map using a TOF 2D profilometer. J Vis 26, 889–898 (2023).

Trench visualisation from a semiautonomous excavator with a base grid map using a TOF 2D profilometer

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Author: Niskanen, Ilpo1,2; Immonen, Matti1; Makkonen, Tomi1;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Technology, Structures and Construction Technology, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 4000, FI-90014, Oulu, Finland
2Public Works Research Institute, 1-6 Minamihara, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 300-2621, Japan
3Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Circuits and Systems Research Unit, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 7300, FI-90014, Oulu, Finland
4Mitta Oy, Laakeritie 9, FI-90620, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-08-25


Real-time, three-dimensional (3D) visualisation technology can be used at construction sites to improve the quality of work. A 3D view of the landscape under work can be compared to a target 3D model of the landscape to conveniently show needed excavation tasks to a human excavator operator or to show the progress of an autonomous excavator. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate surface visualisation from measurements taken with a pulsed time-of-flight (TOF) 2D profilometer on-board a semiautonomous excavator. The semiautomatic excavator was implemented by recording the feedback script parameters from the work performed on the excavator by a human driver. 3D visualisation maps based on the triangle mesh technique were generated from the 3D point cloud using measurements of the trenches dug by a human and an autonomous excavator. The accuracy of the 3D maps was evaluated by comparing them to a high-resolution commercial 3D scanner. An analysis of the results shows that the 2D profilometer attached to the excavator can achieve almost the same 3D results as a high-quality on-site static commercial 3D scanner, whilst more easily providing an unobstructed view of the trench during operation (a 3D scanner placed next to a deep trench might not have a full view of the trench). The main technical advantages of our 2D profilometer are its compact size, measurement speed, lack of moving parts, robustness, low-cost technology that enables visualisations from a unique viewpoint on the boom of the excavator, and readiness for real-time control of the excavator’s system. This research is expected to encourage the efficiency of the digging process in the future, as well as to provide a remarkable view of trench work using an excavator as a moving platform to facilitate data visualisation.

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Series: Journal of visualization
ISSN: 1343-8875
ISSN-E: 1875-8975
ISSN-L: 1343-8875
Volume: 26
Issue: 4
Pages: 889 - 898
DOI: 10.1007/s12650-023-00908-4
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 114 Physical sciences
Funding: We gratefully acknowledge funding from Business Finland (38056/31/2020).
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