VIRTUAL TERRESTRIAL LASER SCANNER SIMULATOR FOR DIGITALISATION OF TEACHING ENVIRONMENT: CONCEPT AND FIRST RESULTS
Keywords: simulator, laser scanning, point cloud, virtual scanner, game engine, curriculum development, online training
Abstract. We are presenting a concept and first results of a Terrestrial Laser Scanner simulator - a tool, which could be a valuable educational tool for geomatics and engineering students. The main goal of the VirScan3D project is to cover engineering digitisation by two major project parts: 1) Development of a virtual environment for creation and processing of digital 3D scan data; 2) Digital teaching and e-learning material with interactive tools and practical experiences. Part 1 will be solved through the development of a virtual system that allows users to create realistic data in the absence of a real measuring device. At the time of writing (April 2020) all higher education teaching and learning worldwide has been changed to online delivery due to the Covid pandemic. However, this has affected the courses that involve working with equipment and – consequently – require the presence of students and devices. In this project, the development of such equipment simulator proposes a real and feasible solution, which allows undisturbed continuing the teaching.
The virtual scanner will be based on existing software packages. It will be part of a general e-learning concept that will be implemented in partner universities. Part 2 is addressed through an integrated teaching concept that includes interactive learning tools (for both teachers and students) and practical exercises (for example project weeks, summer schools) where the theoretical and virtual education is connected to practical experience with real instrumentation and data. One outcome of the experimental work is additional e-learning material based on the experiences and results of the project work.
The prototype implementation of the virtual laser scanner is realized within a game engine, which allows for fast and easy 3D visualisation and navigation. Within this environment, the user can freely navigate and define suitable scanning positions/stations. At each scanning station a simulated scan is performed, which is based on the technical specifications of a real scanner. The mathematical solution is based on 3D line intersection with the virtual 3D surface including noise and colour as well as an intensity simulation. As a result, 3D point clouds for each station are generated, which will be further processed for registration and modelling using standard software packages.