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Geometric modeling of geospatial data for visualization-assisted excavation

Advanced Engineering Informatics
DOI: 10.1016/j.aei.2013.01.004
  • 3D Modeling
  • Buried Utilities
  • Gis
  • Safety
  • Virtual Reality
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics


Abstract Underground utility lines being struck by mechanized excavators during construction or maintenance operations is a long standing problem. Besides the disruptions to public services, daily life, and commerce, utility strike accidents lead to injuries, fatalities, and property damages that cause significant financial loss. Utility strikes by excavation occur mainly because of the lack of an effective approach to synergize the geospatial utility locations and the movement of excavation equipment into a real-time, three-dimensional (3D) spatial context that is accessible to excavator operators. A critical aspect of enabling such a knowledge-based excavation approach is the geospatial utility data and its geometric modeling. Inaccurate and/or incomplete utility location information could lead to false instilled confidence and be counterproductive to the excavator operator. This paper addresses the computational details in geometric modeling of geospatial utility data for 3D visualization and proximity monitoring to support knowledge-based excavation. The details of the various stages in the life-cycle of underground utility geospatial data are described, and the inherent limitations that preclude the effective use of the data in downstream engineering applications such as excavation guidance are analyzed. Five key requirements - Interactivity, Information Richness, 3-Dimensionality, Accuracy Characterization, and Extensibility – are identified as necessary for the consumption of geospatial utility data in location-sensitive engineering applications. A visualization framework named IDEAL that meets the outlined requirements is developed and presented in this paper to geometrically represent buried utility geospatial data and the movement of excavation equipment in a 3D emulated environment in real-time.

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