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LiDAR surveying and photogrammetry

From Leonardo da Vinci to LiDAR: A Short History of LiDAR Surveying and Photogrammetry

LiDAR surveying and photogrammetryPhotogrammetry is the process by which 2D images are translated into 3D models. Although the process used today is relatively sophisticated, its original concepts date further back in history than you might imagine.

It’s difficult to think that something as complex as LiDAR surveying and photogrammetry could have even been a thought in someone’s mind before all of today’s sophisticated imaging technology was available, but every complex process needs to start with an idea. Here’s a short look at the fascinating history behind LiDAR surveying and photogrammetry.

Leonardo da Vinci
In 1480, da Vinci spoke of perspective as “nothing else than the seeing of an object behind a sheet of smooth glass … All things transmit their images to the eye by pyramidal lines, and these pyramids are cut by the said glass. The nearer to the eye these are intersected, the smaller the image of their cause will appear.” All of this is just a flowery way of saying that things appear smaller when they’re further away. This was the first glimpse into photogrammetry.

Albrecht Duerer
Fast forward to 1525 to meet Duerer, a scholar who used the laws of perspective to develop an instrument that was used to create a “true” perspective drawing. This invention allows scientists to start developing more accurate mathematical principles for “space resection,” which means using two or more images to determine the coordinates of a single point.

1900 – Present Day
There have been many development cycles of photogrammetry. Plane table gave way to analog, which gave way to digital photogrammetry. Now, laser scanners and digital images are used in applications such as structural design, civil engineer services, and even finite element analysis consulting. LiDAR surveying and photogrammetry are used often by geotechnical engineering firms to create 3D models for countless applications.

It’s hard to believe that such a widely used technology started with the idea of simple perspective, but even the most complex modern processes have to start somewhere. Thanks to a simple idea, we’re now able to construct amazing 3D models of things that we previously couldn’t articulate.

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