machine control online

Do it yourself (DIY) Mobile Mapping?

A friend sent me a link (below) about a DIY mobile mapping system by students in Stuttgart, Germany. Mobile mapping is a collection of sensor technologies that combine to create a powerful and productive 3D documentation system. The result is unprecedented access to productive measurement and documentation of spaces and objects.

The number of applications are growing as the technology matures and prices come down. Below are a few examples (references below)

  • Accurate assessment of road or highway conditions for emergency response planning
  • Internet mapping applications incorporate aerial photographs and satellite images to develop online mapping systems and street level views
  • Location aware PDA systems (think applications that alert you when you are approaching your favorite coffee chain)
  • Road mapping and highway facilities management by local and federal governments
  • Military and defense applications that survey changes in landscapes or movement of assets or troops Corporate asset and infrastructure management
  • Truck spotting in mining and quarries
  • Topography of hard to access places such as high walls in mines
  • Vehicle vision systems for semi-autonomous or autonomous positioning

Collecting huge amounts of data is performed by this orchestra of sensors (GNSS RTK, MEMS, LiDar, imagery and more) with software applications doing the heavy lifting. Processing and filtering algorithms are traditionally performed by post processing the data but advancements in both software and hardware are providing near real-time results. (See PR for Neptec click here)

These types of efforts are milestones along the adoption curve and signal what is coming. I applaud the students and the corporate sponsors, Trimble, Applanix and FARO, for providing accessibility to such intelligent young minds.

Read more about the students efforts here

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November 4, 2013 in Randy's Blog
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CIME Mining Show-Beijing 2013 Brief Summary + Images

I just returned from a business trip to China and attended my first CIME Mining Show held in Beijing at the China National Convention Center. The show had over 450 exhibitors.

I was surprised at the number of Chinese equipment manufacturers that I had not seen at prior trade shows around the world nor heard of for that matter. This opened my eyes to the vast amount of equipment being manufactured inside China to meet their own internal needs. I spoke to a few of the vendors and exports were less than 5% of their business.

Most of the manufactures and mine management companies to whom I chatted had heard of 3D positioning and fleet management systems but few had implemented and none were exhibiting any solutions. As China steams ahead providing energy for its huge population and growing middle class, positioning technology is sure to play a role in their pursuit of higher productivity.

I enjoyed the show and the country is wonderful. I hope to find my way back soon.

Please find images I snapped at the show by clicking here

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September 9, 2013 in Randy's Blog
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AIMEX in Sydney considered a success

I have been traveling the past 6 weeks (Germany, Australia, China) so am just getting around to posting to my blog.

I attended the AIMEX 2013 show in Sydney. This was my first AIMEX. It seemed well attended although I notice a few large companies missing, such as Atlas Copco and other heavy equipment manufacturers. This was the first show where AIMEX shifted from every 4 years to every two years. I can only assume this is the reason for the void.

But all in all the show was considered a success according to Reed Exhibitions. (Read their summary by clicking here.

Positioning technology was well represented from companies such as Position Partners, CR Kennedy, Leica Mining and APS. It was good catching up with some friends at all of the above plus Rajant;s Scott Beer and Todd Rigby.

Here is a link to our Flickr page with a few images I shot. Click here

I look forward to the next AIMEX, a great show in one of my favorite world cities.


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September 8, 2013 in Randy's Blog
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10; Rodney Sellers, Why me?

First, the smoke had to clear from the air. Then the smoke had to clear from Rodney’s head. “Nobody is versed in the art of self-appraisal after being blown back 100 feet.” thought Rodney. No better time to learn than the present. All his limbs seemed intact and moveable. There was a ringing in his ears and he was bruised from the impact and landing. Upon looking around he saw Fuzzy Wilson, the caretaker who was his co-pilot in the rocket ride from the entrance to the mine.

“You OK Fuzzy?’ asked Rodney.

“Still breathin’” Replied Fuzzy “I been in worse scraps, but I don’t remember when. I forgot I needed to turn off that heating contraption so when it ran out of ore to process, it wouldn’t overheat and explode like it did.

The plot just got thicker. Rodney was way past dropping off equipment. He knew what was going on and Bud Sellers would know soon enough too. With that knowledge in Rodney’s hands, he would be a liability to Bud. Not a good place for Rodney. There was no way he could play dumb and pretend the whole earth shaking explosion did not happen. There was also no way he could still be the construction guy that owed Bud Sellers a few favors for quieting down some homeowners.

“First things first “ Thought Rodney “I need to get out of here and think of what I’m going to say to Bud to keep him from killing me because I know too much about his gold mine.”

The drive home gave him time to think about what he should say and how to diffuse the potentially dangerous situation with a loud mouthed illegal gold miner that was a real life Bud Sellers. There was no way he was going to be able to lie. Bud would know that Rodney was smart enough to get an idea of the operation, and that Fuzzy was loose lipped enough to fill in the details.

The next morning he took action, Rodney was going to be proactive and try to save his skin by contacting Bud Sellers. He called Bud’s secretary and she was more than happy to set up a lunch that day with Rodney. He guessed he got put to the top of the guest list first thing in the morning.

They met at a middle of the road street café; lots of people made Rodney feel like he would not get attacked by the crazy lawyer. The made eye contact, then sat down and Rodney jumped right in. “Why didn’t you tell me you were running gold in that old mine.” He confidently stated. “I have a group that has been running the other end of the mine near the new waterline going into town”

Bud Sellers froze and just stared at Rodney. A speechless attorney, what were the chances of that. “Well we have been doing some poking around but have not found anything good yet.” Bud said shyly. He came across with the “aw shucks” attitude of a farm boy. He was not that  good an actor. “Fuzzy thought the mine still had a lot of life left in it and I got a few friends together to help him prove it. It’s kind of a tax shelter and hobby all rolled into one.”

“Your method of melting the ore is wasting too much gold.” Rodney said excitedly. “We have been using cyanide to leach it and are getting some good results.”

Rodney was just talking to keep things moving along. All the things he said about gold reclamation were just repeated from gold prospectors he had listened to over the years. Living in Arizona, you didn’t have to go too far to find somebody who was looking for gold. As he was saying these things, he realized he was digging his own grave. He had no gold or any prospecting operation. He had better get out of the trap real quick.

“I lost my partners a few months back; they said it was too much work.” Rodney lamented. “I could not keep it going so I shut down what we had and haven’t done anything in some time.” “If you need a hand, I will be more than happy to help get your operation back up and running.”

Bud thought for a moment and hesitated. “I don’t know what extent the damage is to the mine.” He said. “We need to look and get a better idea so I can make a cash call to the investors. I will know in a week or so.”

“Let me know what you come up with.” replied Rodney. “I’ll be standing by.”

They were getting up to leave when Bud leaned over toward Rodney. “One more thing,” said Bud in a low voice. “My friends like to keep their involvement in this mine private; any slip of the tongue from you could prove hazardous to your health.”

As Bud spoke those words a chill came over Rodney. He gulped and smiled; or at least tried to.

August 21, 2013 in Marco's Posts
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Your Garbage is Fuel


That’s right….your trash…and for that matter, my trash, everyones trash. As waste flows into landfills and is compacted, the microbial action generates methane gas. The gas is collected and can be used as clean fuel. Carbon emissions from this fuel are 97% lower than diesel.

Below is an excerpt from a blog I came across.

“We are excited about the expansion of natural gas fleets, which can be powered with gas captured from the valuable materials we collect.  At Waste Management, we believe it is important to focus on developing domestic resources like natural gas and renewable fuels, which will help bolster our nation’s economic recovery and our energy security for the long-term.”

Read more by clicking here

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July 21, 2013 in Randy's Blog
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The Internet of Things-How Android Got in Everything


First let me say that I am a fan of Apple and the Apple ecosystem. I have been for several years. It simply works and works well. This is a less popular and less cool statement to make these days. Apple, a once underdog company with leading technology perceived to be oppressed by the IBM’ers, Microsofts and the like, has found huge success. Such is the cycle to now place them as a target, perhaps justifiable on some fronts. But it is impossible to ignore the success of Android. Android is the number one smartphone OS 4 to 1 over Apples iOSx but this does not tell the entire story.

Android has found its way into refrigerators, nanosattelites, automobiles, sensors in your shoes with more to come. Will we see Android populate data collectors for surveying, GIS, site management…. even machines? It is possible.

Part of Android’s success is attributed to Google providing the OS for free to device makers. Another strong reason is the fact that Android is open source allowing programmers to tinker with the code for deeper customization.

The Internet of Things, many sensors and devices becoming part of the increasing connected world, is the subject of a new book I am reading per my last blog. Read more here

So like I said, I believe in and benefit from the Apple ecosystem but Android cannot be ignored. So Ive added a Samsung Galaxy S4 to my personal and business device toolkit. I need to understand the potential and become familiar with the UI. Im sure no one in Cupertino is crying over my purchase. As innovators, they must understand such curiosity. In the tech world, the saying holds true, “If you dont like change, you will like irrelevance even less.”

More to come…

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For more on The Internet of Things click here for Businessweek article by Ashlee Vance

June 2, 2013 in Randy's Blog
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Google activates 1.5m android OS devices per day

I think this statistic is staggering. I’ve written about how consumer technology, especially smart phones with their simplistic UI and connectivity, relate and drive positioning technology. Here is a link to one article written back in June 2012. To view click here.

I heard this quote above while watching an interview with Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen regarding their new book “The New Digital Age.” I’ve since downloaded the book to my iPad for my upcoming trips and will plan to blog on my thoughts. Looks very interesting.

May 19, 2013 in Randy's Blog
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Intelligent Machine Control: New Komatsu Technology in partnership with Topcon

Intelligent Machine Control-New Komatsu Technology in partnership with Topcon

I was honored to attend this press conference at Bauma today here in Munich. I wanted to post the PR but  will post a blog over the next couple of days regarding the significance of this integrated technology; very exciting stuff. Please stay tuned!

Read Komatsu’s press release here

April 16, 2013 in Uncategorized
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MOBA Expert Talk on Quality and Optimization from Bauma

MOBA Expert Talk on“Quality and optimization in road construction”

The MOBA Expert Talk on “Quality and optimization in road construction“ takes place Tuesday, April 16th at 3 pm (CEST) at bauma, hall A3, booth 227/326. Four industry experts will discuss the topic of quality in asphalt paving and about future possibilities for process optimization. The Expert Talk will be broadcasted live via MOBA Community (, allowing all interested parties to participate directly via chat.

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April 16, 2013 in Randy's Blog
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09 Rodney Sellers; Shotgun Avoidance


“Well this is how I’m gonna die.” Thought Rodney

He was staring down the barrel of a shotgun held by an old cowboy with wild eyes. He was walking around the site getting a look at what he was sure was an illegal gold mining operation run by the attorney Bud Loren. He had just dropped off construction equipment in exchange for Bud calming neighbors near a city infill shopping center.

“Who are you and what do you want.” growled the old man. “I got a mind to drop you where you stand hombre” Great, Rodney was not only in fear of getting shot, it would be by some old dude who talked like a John Wayne movie.

“My name is Rodney. I am dropping off some equipment that Bud Sellers asked me to deliver.” Rodney said calmly.

“Well hells bells! Why didn’t you tell me sooner!” said the old man.  “I’m Fuzzy Wilson, caretaker ‘round here, nice to meet ya.” He stuck out a hand and Rodney shook it.

“Do you need me to put the excavator and dozer somewhere special?” asked Rodney.

“If you don’t mind just get ‘em real close to these doors, I’ll take it from there.” replied Fuzzy

Rodney was hoping to see more of the mine area behind the big doors. Fuzzy seemed like a nice enough guy and Rodney thought he might be able to get some information from him if he was low key and not too direct with his questions.

It only took Rodney a few minutes to have the drivers bring the two big rigs around the site to the doors and drive them off the trailers. Rodney dismissed the drivers and turned his attention to Fuzzy.

“Here they are.” said Rodney. “I will jump in the dozer and bring it inside for you.”

“Better not.” said Fuzzy. “Boss man told me nobody gets past this point. Don’t rightly know why, nothing down there except rocks and such.”

Rodney saw an opening and decided to run into it. “Why all the fuss just for rocks then? Bud was pretty excited to have me deliver this equipment as quick as possible.” asked Rodney.

“Crazy fools think they can extract the gold in the pit…” said Fuzzy. The second it came out of his mouth, he knew he said too much. “Guess I shouldn’t have said that, supposed to be hush hush. Do me a favor and keep it to yourself if you could.” pleaded Fuzzy.

“Your secret is safe with me.” replied Rodney “They think there is gold down there and you aren’t so sure Fuzzy. Have they proved you wrong yet?”

“Crazy city fellers with more money than sense. I worked this claim for twelve years with hardly anything to show for it. The term on the claim ran out and I just stayed out here. The land got sold for houses or something but the economy went south and I been left alone. All of a sudden Bud Loren and others come out with some crazy idea on how to get the gold out of the rocks and asked me to watch the site.” reflected Fuzzy “I told ‘em the lease was expired but he said he was an attorney and he would take care of it. Guess I shouldn’t have told ya all that stuff”

Rodney thought for a moment and digested the confession of Fuzzy. He thought correctly, Bud Loren was running an illegal mining operation and implicating Fuzzy and probably others.

“No problem Fuzzy, what you folks do here is your business.” said Rodney “I’m just doing a favor for old Bud”

“Why would you wanna do anything nice for that polecat.” asked Fuzzy. “He never done anything nice for anyone. Only reason I’m here is he had some money for me if I watched the place while he and all his uppity friends look for gold. Bet they got a lot already, never tell me about that. For some reason they think I can’t keep a secret.

Just as he finished talking, a light came on in Fuzzy’s head. He got an urgent look on his face and suddenly got serious. “Holy snake skin.” he shouted. “I had to turn off some big electric burner or some such 20 minutes ago. Better get to it.”

He turned and started running into the cave, just as the blast sent Fuzzy and Rodney back a good 100 feet.

March 13, 2013 in Marco's Posts
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