GIS Tech News (#23)23 Oct, 2006 By: Kenneth Wong
|Intermap Technologies maps Europe and the United States in 3D -- with unexpected results |
In the predawn hours, while most Londoners are sound asleep, fixed-wing airplanes equipped with IFSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) methodically fly overhead at 30,000'. They traverse the airspace in tight strips, as if they were mowing a lawn. The pilots are not on a covert spy mission. They've been commissioned by Intermap Technologies, a geospatial solutions provider, to collect terrain data as part of a project to map Europe in 3D. What these planes are doing in the sky can potentially help drivers on the ground save fuel one day -- a result not even Intermap predicted.
Intermap's plan is to collect the geography of thirteen Western European countries by 2007 -- Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom -- as 3D elevation models. When the project is done, the Bavarian Alps, the Andalusian Mountains and the Rhine and Thames rivers will be merely a mouse-click away. Additionally, by the end of 2008, the company plans to complete U.S. data collection for its NEXTMap USA program.
All About IFSAR
IFSAR was developed by Environmental Research Institute of Michigan for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In February 1997, DoD (the Department of Defense) chose Intermap for the commercialization of IFSAR, in return for royalties on sales and preferred rates for DOD's use of the technology. Read More >>
Modeling Highways in the Sky:
by Kenneth Wong
There are highways in the sky. You can't see them, but they're there. At Landrum & Brown, a commercial aviation consultancy, they call them "imaginary surfaces." These surfaces define airspace used by planes for takeoffs and landings.
Frequently, proposed aerial highways intersect with something on the ground -- a freeway overpass, a cell phone tower or a skyscraper, for example. It's up to firms like Landrum & Brown to help airport planners arrange the imaginary surfaces in a sensible pattern that keeps planes away from obstructions while maintaining a highly efficient air traffic flow to airport runways.
What's the difference between surfaces on the ground and surfaces in the air? According to Bob Endres, manager of Landrum & Brown's CAD engineering department: Nothing. "Who cares if it's up in the air or on the ground?" he says. "Something that's above grade can be a mirror image of something below grade."
During a luncheon hosted by Autodesk, Endres watched a demonstration of Autodesk Civil 3D, a civil engineering software package for transportation, site, sewer, storm drain and subdivision projects. "We don't design roads on the ground, but we design roads in the air," observes Endres. Watching the way the software handled corridors, he thought, "I can model an exact flight path with that." That prompted Landrum & Brown to begin using Autodesk Civil 3D for its work. Read More >>
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