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The process of collecting geographical data from a mobile vehicle equipped with GNSS, photography, radar, laser, LiDAR, or any number of remote sensing devices is known as mobile mapping. Such systems are made up of a mobile platform and an integrated array of time-synchronized navigation and imaging sensors. GIS data, digital maps, and georeferenced photos and video are the principal outputs of such systems.

Direct reading georeferencing technology paved the path for mobile mapping systems. GPS and Inertial Navigation Systems have made it possible to determine the position and attitude of remote sensing equipment quickly and accurately, allowing for direct mapping of objects of interest without the need for extensive post-processing of observed data.

Aerial mobile mapping

Traditional techniques of geo-referencing aerial photography, ground profiling radar, or Lidar are prohibitively expensive, particularly in inaccessible areas, or where the type of data collected makes interpretation of individual features difficult. Image direct georeferencing simplifies the mapping control for large-scale mapping tasks.

Emergency response planning

Mobile mapping systems allow rapid collection of data to allow accurate assessment of conditions on the ground.

Internet applications

Internet, and mobile device users, are increasingly utilizing geo-spatial information, either in the form of mapping, or geo-referenced imaging. Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have adapted both aerial photographs and satellite images to develop online mapping systems. Street View type images are also an increasing market.

Location aware PDA systems rely on geo-referenced features collated from mobile mapping sources.

Road mapping and highway facility management

GPS combined with digital camera systems allow rapid update of road maps. The same system can be utilized to carry out efficient road condition surveys, and facilities management. Laser scanning technologies, applied in the mobile mapping sense, allow full 3D data collection of slope, bankings, etc.

Road Inventory and Asset Management

Mobile LiDAR with a digital imaging system is being used to gather data which after post-processing generates a strip plan, horizontal and vertical profile, and all other assets within and beyond ROW including abutting land use and deficient geometry. This also calls for riding quality of pavement, Existing Traffic Characteristics and capacity of the corridor, Speed-flow-density analysis, Road Safety Review of the Corridor, Junction, and median opening, and Facilities for commercial vehicles. Thus all data being used to form a performance matrix help identify the gaps in corridor efficiency for prioritization of interventions to improve corridor efficiency.

Digital Twins applications

Mobile mapping combined with indoor mapping is being used in the creation of digital twins. These digital twins can be a single building or an entire city or country. Several mobile mapping companies, known as “Maker of Digital Twins” are embarking on capturing the digital twins market amid the growing trend among organizations and governments that are adopting digital twins for Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence applications within the Industrial Revolution 4.0 framework.

Mobile Mapping System Configuration

The mobile platform is designed to equip data acquisition devices including mapping sensors and positioning apparatus. It may be a land vehicle, a vessel, or an aircraft. Thus the system can observe objects at closer range flexibly.

Read Also: Who Are The Leading Players in The Mobile Mapping Market?

Generally, Mobile Mapping Systems monitor objects by CCD cameras, video cameras, laser scanners, and radar sensors. These mapping sensors are selected according to purpose, but they must obtain high flexibility in data acquisition, more information with less time and effort, and high productivity.

Of course, GPS (Global Positioning System) must be connected at the same time in order to record the position and time. Mobile Mapping System is essentially useless without GPS. GPS is developed and initiated by the United States of America. The system has the capability of navigation and positioning anywhere on Earth, anytime, and under any conditions. Since SA (Selective Availability) was permanently turned off at midnight on May 1, 2000, the accuracy of GPS data has increased.

Differential GPS techniques can help to obtain high positional accuracies. In addition, vehicle wheel sensors and INS (Inertial Navigation System) are important navigation instruments, too. Integrating with GPS, they can provide both the track of the vehicle and the position and orientation information of the mapping sensors.

All these data acquisition devices can get plenty of useful attribute information. The information will be edited and geo-referenced, then stored in the Spatial Database. Geo-reference process is very necessary because these data will be integrated with other information from multiple sources.

Field data collection is always a difficulty for cartographers, surveyors, and researchers. The tools available for mapping applications have been bulky in size and weight, expensive, and difficult to learn for a long time. Fortunately, the advances in remote sensing, GPS technology, GIS, and some data editing and analysis software drive the field data collection.

The advance refers not only to precision has been improved, but also the hardware has become smaller, lighter, and cheaper. And the software has become easier to learn, and more inexpensive. So the data collection task becomes easier, more economical, and faster to complete.

Mobile terminals should be another important component of the Mobile Mapping System. Spatial data can be displayed, edited, or analyzed with them. There are different terminals that can finish such a task. They are PDAs, Mobile telephones, and Land Phones. This handheld equipment can exchange data with desktop PCs via serial or USB ports, and some can do this by Internet access.

In many cases, a Mobile Mapping System is equipped on a vehicle, and the above functions can be done on a PC. Whatever terminals can interchange data with GPS data, and access data from long-distance databases by Internet or wireless communication equipment. So the works need the support of modern communication technologies.

Key Technologies

Integrates space information, modern communication, and intelligent technologies, Mobile Mapping System is designed to collect real-time field data with certain positioning information, editing, processing, visualizing, and mapping multi-source data. In its working, the following key technologies exert important functions.

Intelligent Integration of Multi-Dimension Data
Usually, field data derived by Mobile Mapping System at scales have to be combined with ancillary data layers from other sources. The resolution and format of multi-sources should be matching. Moreover, it is necessary for GPS data to properly match with the geo-spatial database. Recently the integration method has been much more intelligent for dealing with and integrating quickly and accurately. Such study needs further progress though great deal of work has been done on it.

Compression and Decompression Models of Spatial Information
Compression and decompression model studies have been discussed for a long time. Almost every spatial database involves the problem because large data files not only take much more capacity of the database, but also at the same time its loading cost much longer time than small files.

Now there are many compression and decompression models for spatial information. All of them have their own characteristics and their compressibility is different from each other. Generally higher compression ratio brings more information loss. When selecting compression and decompression models, safety, time cost, and efficiency are the main factors considered.

Efficient Transmission of Spatial Information
Spatial data/information includes not only remote sensing data, and survey data, but also graphic data and attribute data, so transmission of large data is a difficulty especially when telecommuting or data synchronization between mobile terminals and desktop GIS. Therefore efficient transmission of spatial information is needed imminently.

To resolve the problem, the bandwidth of the broadband networks should be improved. At present new networks with 10 G/s transmission speed is built in the USA. It is obvious that the transfer of large data depends on broadband network technology.

Interface of Wireless Communication and Mobile Intelligent Terminal
The capacity and computing ability of mobile intelligent terminals are limited, so it is impossible to store all the data in the limited memory and flash cards. Therefore it is absolutely necessary to transfer the data by Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) from server to user. Accordingly, it becomes a key problem to make the interface friendly, and at the same time, the data reading speed is another issue settled imminently. Therefore the study on the interface of wireless communication and mobile terminals has been paid much more attention.

What Are The Advantages of Mobile Mapping?

Mobile mapping as a whole refers to the collection of geospatial data using mapping sensors on moving platforms. In short, if a mobile system is gathering spatial data that is an example of mobile mapping, and a practical application of the technology we will be discussing today.

Mobile mapping offers a simple solution to the most pressing issue traditional mapping presented: The sheer abundance of data. Every single element in a map has a positional value relative to other elements in the environment and the individual handling the map creation. In practice, this meant that a proper map would require either constant measuring of every single important element in the area or forgoing accuracy for a more minimalistic approach that simply acted as a guideline for travel.

Mobile mapping technology on the other hand can record information for every single element in the area the platform traverses and can build an accurate representation of the area both in 2D or 3D based on this information. This means that it’s in every way a superior alternative to most mapping techniques.

To understand how these incredible feats are possible we’ll need to take a closer look at what a mobile platform is in the context of mobile mapping. A platform is at the end of the day any moving element that is equipped with the right sensors to gather geospatial data efficiently. In this context cars, planes, boats, drones, and even humans have all been used as platforms depending on the circumstances of each location.

These platforms are then equipped with the corresponding sensors to gather spatial information and a dedicated processing unit that runs the required mobile mapping software to transform the raw data into a format that makes sense to our eyes. While this general principle of mapping remains consistent regardless of the manufacturer of the platform or the software used, the main difference lies in the sensor technology used.

Sensory input has been traditionally a challenge that robotics and autonomous systems have had to face to allow for accurate and safe movement, and that means that there are many methods available for mobile mapping platforms to analyze and obtain information from their surroundings. A mobile mapping platform can obtain geospatial data from a LiDAR sensor which measures depth based on the time it takes light to travel from the sender to an object and back to the sender (Time of Flight), relying instead on radar waves that similarly bounce from close objects, use traditional or stereoscopic cameras to provide a detailed feed of their surroundings or even use GPS in a GPS mobile mapping array.

Regardless of the method, mobile mapping systems obtain relevant geospatial information in real-time and this efficiency is what makes them the premier choice when it comes to modern mapping. Mobile mapping might not always be perfect and specialists might need to finetune a resulting map after the fact, but they are incredibly practical and offer results that are generally unmatched and far more appealing than the manual alternatives to mapping.

While the benefits mobile mapping offers are countless and it’s easy to see why it’s such a favored system in the industry, they can also be summed up in 4 main areas for the sake of simplicity and easier understanding:

  • Safety: While safety is not a topic, we detailed too closely it’s nonetheless a key consideration when it comes to the benefits these systems provide. By using drones or other remote-controlled platforms it is possible to gather detailed information of delicate or dangerous locations such as caves, derelict buildings, or beyond. In short human operators don’t need to put themselves at risk, and this is one of the most important benefits of mobile mapping.
  • Speed: Mobile mapping is at least 40 times faster than traditional survey methods that rely on tripods and other tools, and even faster than less technological-intensive alternatives.
  • Efficiency: Mobile mapping is not only faster but also less demanding on your team. A single mobile mapping platform can scan areas faster than the alternatives with a reduced team, which means you’ll be able to undertake more simultaneous projects without affecting your results.
  • Flexibility: Mobile mapping systems come in many shapes and sizes, and this means that not only you can choose which technologies are better suited to your needs, but also the needs of your clients. This means that simpler scanning tools can be used to provide cheaper alternatives to your client base and likewise more detailed sensors can be equipped for those tasks that demand utmost precision. Ultimately, you’ll have a lot of control over how to handle your mobile mapping systems.

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