Total station has been predominantly applied in stationary survey scenarios in construction. With the moving target tracking and point survey automation functions, a robotic total station (RTS) lends itself well to more dynamic applications. Nevertheless, a RTS unit is still unable to track multiple targets simultaneously or to survey a target point when the line-of-sight is temporarily unavailable. In this paper, we propose a methodology to synchronize and automate multiple RTS units intended to address dynamic tracking and surveying applications in the construction field. By using the application programming interface (API) from the manufacturer, we implement the proposed methodology and the prototype system integrates two RTS units in regard to space and time and communicates survey command instructions among RTS units through wireless networks. The two RTS units can be operated to survey the two ends of one swinging sling concurrently in order to retrieve the actual length of the sling within several millimeters accuracy. Besides, in applications where line-of-sight between a target object and one RTS unit cannot be guaranteed all the time, continuous surveying can be materialized by automatically delegating the task to another synchronized RTS unit with clear view of the target object. A field test was conducted to demonstrate the application of the proposed automation approach in which sling length was measured of a rigging framework used for lifting industrial modules. The testing results are presented and achievable accuracy and reliability are discussed. The proposed solution overcomes the limitations of global positioning system (GPS) and laser scanning and holds high potential to provide cost effective solutions to many dynamic field applications.
Keywords: Surveys; Survey; Surveying; Systems; Construction; Applications; Tracking; Data; Robotics; Coordinate system;
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