The Data Collection Vehicle was recently developed, and it consists of a vehicle fitted with high definition cameras, GPS receivers and other equipment, that, while operated solely by the driver,
is able to intelligently capture continuous imagery of the surrounding area, as it moves.
The material captured from a single drive along a road offers the ability to extract various types of data accurately and quickly, such as: street names and numberings, restrictions, road signs, points of interest and other useful data such as building fronts and number of flats etc.
The development of this system was primarily driven by the realization that usually, any common data
collection team (a) works with predefined types of data and will not collect other data (which is expected, of course) that may prove useful in the future, (b) when unsure about an entry it is usually difficult to do a u-turn or reverse in order to recheck, which leads to a small percentage of the data with positional or accuracy uncertainty, (c) while working in highways or dense traffic it is impossible to do frequent stops and record data, and of course (d) the fact that all of the above
in conjunction with the necessary equipment (PDA or Laptop) and the required level of expertise and number (>1) of the team members, make the procedure time-consuming and extremely expensive.
Using the Data Collection Vehicle, there is no need for specialized personnel besides the driver who, without any special training, will follow a predefined itinerary and will enable/disable the capture using a touch screen that provides basic data about the procedure.
Every frame captured is tagged with time, coordinates and direction of the vehicle and is stored in compressed format for
both sides of the road while the car moves, while the capture rate and internal camera parameters are automatically controlled in relation to the speed and direction of the vehicle.
In the office, the collected material is transferred to a central system and is subsequently accessed through special software that will accept as input the position along a road and optionally the time (as there may be more than one captures of the same position) and wil output the imagery in a measurable manner, with tools for data recording with coordinates.
The basic advantage of this system is the ability to re-use the material and extract new data in the future (vector or raster
), and of course the speed at which the actual dataset building is done, using multiple workstations in office work environment.
It is obvious that this methodology does not eliminate the need for classic data collection teams, but substantially lessens their use, while allowing the company to drastically accellerate the data collection procedure and save resources which may be used in further development.