Boundaries and Beyond

Boundaries and Beyond by Jody Budde, PLS


Recognizing the technological benefits of LiDAR more than 11 years ago, Foth teams began to utilize 3D scanning technologies for specialty projects ranging from airport baggage handling systems, utility vaults, and industrial plant facilities. Their geospatial team has continued to push and pioneer new techniques and opportunities, supporting an elevated use of this technology and related advancements. 

In 2018, Foth employed UAS aerial LiDAR technology as well as expanded terrestrial scanning tools for flood wall and structure scanning. In 2020, the decision to purchase a RIEGL VMX-2HA; a high-seed, high-performance Dual Scanner Mobile Mapping System . This purchase further supports their ability to collect and process data in-house, and ultimately provide clients with that “next-level” immersive deliverable.

To accommodate the use of processing software inclusive of RIEGL MLS tools and other applications, a dedicated remote sensing data processing lab and large capacity NAS server were developed. In 2020, when Foth purchased a RIEGL VMX-2HA MLS system, they created an in-house, MLS specific project team. 2021 saw the implementation of a 250+ TB data center storage system.

Acquisition of Mobile Lidar System

 In early 2020, upon making the decision to invest in an in-house MLS system, Foth leadership researched and evaluated industry leading systems, including RIEGL’s VMX-2HA. Having used an earlier version of the VMX MLS system to complete a variety of projects for the Iowa Department of Transportation, our team was knowledgeable of and familiar with the system and overall process. RIEGL’s dual, downward facing 5MP cameras proved most beneficial to achieve the deliverable requirements and desired client services, such as pavement condition analysis and asset management. Trusted partnership is vital to Foth’s foundation. With that said, the post-sale support, system calibration, and genuine interest provided by the RIEGL team have been instrumental to Foth’s success. 

Case Studies

Foth’s Infrastructure Solutions being focused on aviation, municipalities and work with local Departments of Transportation provides them with opportunities to support surrounding communities with safety, revitalization, and economic growth initiatives. One of their main goals in doing so is keeping the community residents and field staff safe. Foth is able to deploy their MLS team, often a single operator, and scan miles of roadway in a single day without the need for lane closures, detours, or boots-on-the ground surveying. 

A common challenge faced is the ability to organize, digest, share, store, and archive large datasets produced by MLS systems. In addition to utilizing tools such as TopoShare, Foth has also developed a vetted-out process which incorporates quality control checks and a verified balance of data collection based on travel speed, optimized imagery spacing, project scope and requested accuracy.

City of Perry Citywide MLS Scan
– Foth was hired to provide Mobile LiDAR Scanning (MLS) services for the City of Perry to develop one of the state’s first digital twin cities. This project required scanning more than 4 square miles of the city, totaling just over 60 miles of roadway and 10 miles of alleyway, to capture 360-degree imagery as well as pointcloud data. The city will apply this highly detailed data to advance updates and requirements regarding ADA compliance as well as sustain more complete asset management. 

 County of Dubuque NW Arterials – Foth was hired to provide geospatial services to the County of Dubuque in order to assist with establishing foundations for project improvement designs. Our team provided the following services: project control, mobile LiDAR control with approximately 45 targets set, mobile LiDAR scanning acquisition collected at posted speeds as to lessen disruptions to traffic flow, pavement condition analysis to support mill and overlay considerations, and extraction/topography for all visible surface land improvements within 40 feet of the centerline.

Louisville Regional Airport Authority – Foth was contracted to provide land surveying services for the Bowman Field Runway 15-33 pavement rehabilitation project. This project involved mill and overlay, with a leveling / wedging course to improve grades along the runway and help bring existing cross slopes within FAA tolerances. Recognizing the importance of limiting closure to their secondary runway, their team deployed an in-house RIEGL VMX-2HA mobile LiDAR scanner in order to collect necessary data for the project. Effectively minimizing field time and runway closures from roughly a week of surveying to approximately ten minutes, five passes were made with the MLS equipment at approximately 40 mph. 

Foth was able to complete the necessary field work, with the runway open while coordinating with the local air traffic control tower. While deployed on site, their team was also able to drive the entire airfield – including the primary runway (Runway 6-24), all aprons, taxiways, and ramps – collecting survey data of all airfield pavement. Not only was this collected data beneficial for the project at hand, but also months later with the advancement of the airport’s next project, the full reconstruction of the primary runway. Having had already scanned the entire airfield, future projects would only need minimal ground survey control shots, ultimately advancing future project schedules for years to come.

Looking to the Future

Currently the Foth team is employing their RIEGL VMX-2HA MLS system to scan entire cities, collecting point cloud data and creating reality mesh models and digital twins. This is crucial to gain more in-depth understandings of relationships between features, signal lighting, business locations, bridge clearances, signs, visible utilities, vegetation, and arbor imagery. Accessibility of this data is valuable for planning and commerce, especially when considering the future of autonomous vehicles. As designers strive to retrofit current roadways and accommodate future transportation, elevated levels of detailed data obtained by their MLS technology is beneficial and further supports the use of mixed reality. 

Their Applied Technology Team is continuously monitoring technology development in terms on how they can utilize advanced technologies to help solve their client’s toughest science and engineering challenges. Their goal is to always employ and search for new technologies to improve their client’s experiences, increase efficiencies and promote creative collaboration.


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