LIDAR (light detection and ranging) scanners are the tool of choice for long-range scanning. It is a remote sensing method used to detect objects in 3-D space similar to the technology used in autonomous self-driving vehicles. It uses light in the form of a pulsated laser to measure variable distances. Long-range scanners are typically set up in multiple locations to collect large datasets. The dataset from each location generates a point cloud, and each of the point clouds are stitched together to create a 3-D space. The stitched point-cloud data are then sent directly to the customer, or 3-D models of the areas are generated to work in any CAD environment. The ability to implement CAD modeling allows tasks to be completed in a fraction of the time compared to manual drafting. It also eliminates the need to revisit the area to get a forgotten measurement or extra detail. Generally, the CAD models are used for factory/shop-floor layout plans, power-plant equipment change-outs and proof dimensioning. In addition to the 3-D model, full spherical HDR imagining is attached directly to the point cloud. This provides a photo-realistic effect of the data and allows for virtual walkthroughs of the areas, shareable markups, geo-referencing and meta-tagging. This data can be shared with an unlimited user base via freeware software.
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