Modeling Earth Surfaces for Highway Earthwork Computation Using Terrestrial Laser Scanning

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earthwork, lasers, mapping, volume measurement


Research was performed for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to evaluate the feasibility of using terrestrial laser scans (TLS) on road construction projects as a cost-effective means of measuring earthwork quantities. A scanning workflow was developed that included detailed planning of pre-construction scan locations to capture point cloud data efficiently. Customized software was developed to allow users to view the large data sets in familiar station/offset coordinates in order to eliminate extraneous points and generate the ground surface. This surface was converted to a Triangulated Irregular Network (TIN) and earthwork quantities were calculated and compared to quantities computed using traditional cross-sections and average end area (AEA) method. The results indicated that TLS yields earthwork quantities consistent with AEA, provides additional data that may alleviate the need for return field work, and requires comparable field time for data collection.

Recommended Citation

Slattery, Kerry T., and Dianne K. Slattery. "Modeling earth surfaces for highway earthwork computation using terrestrial laser scanning." International Journal of Construction Education and Research 9, no. 2 (2013): 132-146.

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Technology and Construction Management