13 September 2018



PDF versione italiana


KEYWORDS:  Street evaluation | Urban analysis | Mapping | HERON | Wearable 3D Laser Scanner | Underground city verification

Gexcel, in collaboration with Topcon Italy, College of Surveyors di Bologna and Amici Delle Acque Association, carried out the 3D survey of the underground river Aposa. The ancient tunnels have been mapped and analyzed to verify the level of structural deterioration, dangerous for overlying squares and roads, and to plan possible conservation activities.

HERON outdoor survey of the Aposa river
Fig.1_HERON outdoor survey of the Aposa underground river
Bologna underground tunnel entry
Fig.2_The exit from the city underground tunnel


  • Generate a 3D model of the underground city tunnels
  • Update the existing city map with 3D laser scanner information
  • Obtain a geo-referenced 3D survey
  • Analyze the geometry to prevent collapses or faults and historical monuments deterioration

HERON survey of the Bologna underground tunnel
Fig.3_The Aposa underground tunnels and the HERON surveying 

HERON AC-1 technology has been used to detect approximately one kilometre of route distributed between streets, squares and underground tunnels, without the need for GPS systems. The duration of the survey corresponded to the time taken by the operator to walk. Some spherical targets were placed along the tunnel, noting down their coordinates directly on the HERON Control Unit. In this way, the geo-localization could also be achieved. The many cavities along the tunnel were not a problem and the operator was able to survey even the narrowest of them.  (See Video)

Bologna underground topographic surveying
Fig.4_Topographic surveying of a portion of the Aposa tunnels

The topographic survey was carried out, using 8 control stations and 40 reference points for a high geometric accuracy result. The Topcon GLS2000 static laser scanner survey was necessary for a very old and particularly damaged part of the tunnel. In this way, a high-resolution data was obtained, useful for an accurate analysis of the actual state of the structure.

Bologna 3D underground analysis
Fig.5_Bologna underground tunnell and upper street analysis 

Aposa underground tunnel cross section
Fig.6_The Aposa Underground tunnel cross section

Combining the HERON global survey with high-resolution scans, it was possible to document a significant urban area, obtaining multilevel information and a complete 2D and 3D mapping.
Here some of the HERON technology benefits:

  • Fast mapping of a large area in difficult surveying conditions
  • Fast and frequent update of site’s 3D models' thanks to the automatic geo-localization feature. Operators with basic knowledge in surveying and geo-localization can easily manage it. 
  • Easy integration with colored point clouds from terrestrial laser scanners


  • Detailed technical table
  • Plans, sections, elevations, high-resolution orthophotos and photo plans
  • 3D point cloud model
  • 3D model flythrough movies
  • Topcon terrestrial laser scanner and HERON mobile mapping system joint 3D model

Aposa: Bologna underground 3D model
Fig.7_The joint 3D model visualized in the JRC 3D Reconstructor software

7 August 2018



PDF versione italiana


KEYWORDS: Cultural Heritage | Archaeology | JRC 3D Reconstructor | LiDAR data

Tambomachay, Peru - Picture of the site and orthophoto of the masonry - by Restauro SAC - JRC 3D Reconstructor
Fig.1-2_Orthographic view and the picture of Tambomachay site

During 2017, the CDC Ministry of Peruvian culture commissioned to Restauro S.A.C. the surveying of some Inca historical sites. The Tambomachay is one of these: near to Cusco, this site consists of a series of aqueducts, canals and waterfalls running through the terraced rocks.
It is important to know that, till not long time ago, the measurement of these ancient walls was done by very rudimentary techniques: large sheets of millimetric paper were placed on the wall to manually trace the contours of every single stone and later manually redrawn in the CAD environment. As you can image, this workflow is incredibly time/money expensive as it requires months (years!) of work to get results always uncertain, because of drawing errors or missing details (ledge, cavity, pictures, etc.). This the reason that brought the company to operate with a laser scanner technology to face this important work. Thanks to this method it was possible to make a complete survey in less than one working day and extract rocks contour lines measurable with a millimetric precision, thanks to the JRC 3D Reconstructor post-processing software.


  • To measure, analyze and document the ancient masonry build by the Inca population.
  • To detect the exact position and verify the deterioration and/or structural failure over the time.
  • To intervene with conservation works.

    Tambomachay, Peru - High Res orthophoto of the stones - by Restauro SAC - JRC 3D Reconstructor
    Fig.3_High Res orthophoto showing the stones detail

    « The processing speediness and accuracy allowed us to generate 2D and 3D data with a precision impossible for the traditional surveying methods. Thanks to JRC 3D Reconstructor, we daily improve the quality and productivity of our job. »
    Wilfredo Torres, Restauro S.A.C. | CEO

    Tambomachay, Peru - Orthophoto of the entire complex - by Restauro SAC - JRC 3D Reconstructor
    Fig.4_Orthophoto of the masonry complex

    To complete the documentation project and illustrate the real artefact conditions, a CAD drawing with orthophotos was provided.


    • Detailed technical table with high-resolution orthophotos
    • 3D point cloud model
    • 2D plans and views with millimetric precision


    • The speediness of 2D and 3D data extraction
    • The millimetric precision of technical results


    • SURVEYING SYSTEM: Faro Focus3D 130x
    • SURVEYING AREA: 2.982 m²
    • SURVEYING TIME: 4 hours
    • PROCESSING SOFTWARE: JRC 3D Reconstructor
    • PROCESSING TIME: 6 hours

      Tambomachay, Peru - CAD plans with CAD plans with photographic view - by Restauro SAC - JRC 3D Reconstructor
      Fig.5_Plan of the scanned site


      RESTAURO S.A.C. is a Peruvian company that offers a wide range of services related to Cultural Heritage needs. Founded in October 2009, it offers solutions for management, conservation and restoration problems thanks to a national and international experience as well as a selected professional team and high-level technologies.

      26 July 2018


      Multiresolution and muti-sensors integration for Forensic studies and documentation.

      KEYWORDS: Forensic | University | DPI-8X | HERON AC-1 | FARO Focus3D

        Forensic project at Brescia University

        This was the topic of the annual "student project" asked the students attending the International English speaking course of Advanced Geomatics at the University of Brescia (Italy). Students were asked to create a virtual crime scene and proceed to the 3D documentation of the virtual site. Everything was carried out in full autonomy and only with the external supervision of the course teachers (prof. Vassena and assistant Chiamone). Several technologies, most of them provided by Gexcel, have been applied. The full crime scene has been acquired by iMM HERON, the local (room) site Faro Focus3D and the virtual body scanned by Dot Product DPI-8X handheld scanner.

        Download NOW the full project and enjoy! 
        ( 5,4 Gbyte and the FREE Rec viewer ) 

        We thank all the students of the course for their creativity, their interest in the field work and the quality of the realized project. Well done!


          ADVANCED GEOMATICS  | unibs-advanced-geomatics
          Advanced Geomatics is a University of Brescia Master's Degree course on Civil and Environmental Engineering. The Advanced Geomatics course introduces Master's students to 3D surveying, mapping and documentation technologies. The students, thanks to intense lab activities, can use and apply 3d surveying technologies and instruments. In particular, students learn how to use and how to carry on the data elaboration of static laser scanners, handheld scanners, Indoor and outdoor mapping solutions. Students learn also how to carry on rigorous surveying applications using digital photogrammetry.

          9 July 2018


          3D SCANNING OF AN OLD MINE Zhejiang Province (China)


          KEYWORDS: Mining | Underground | HERON | 3D Mapping

          The surveying of an underground mine is difficult for two orders of problems: the complicated and dark tunnels environment and the underground depth where GPS or GNSS signal can't be reached.
          The Aurantech company has faced this problem in an old underground mine site, in Zhejiang and thanks to the HERON wearable mobile mapping system the procedure for data collection was not only possible but also efficient.
          After pre-processed the surveying acquisitions and filtered the noise, it has been possible to build the surface model of the tunnel, based on the required parameters, with a global accuracy of 10 cm.
          The data extraction has been made with JRC 3D Reconstructor software. First of all, the data have been aligned via the automatic registration and bundle adjustment software's functions. Then, the cross-sections have been easily generated and volume and surface areas computed on the 3D model. Finally, the 3D model was easily exported to third-party applications using one of the most common data interchange formats.

          Aurantech - The operator with HERON AC-1 during the surveying activities in the underground mine and HERON point cloud model with the path
          Fig 1. The operator with HERON AC-1 during the surveying activities in the underground mine
          Fig 2. HERON point cloud model of the underground mine with the path
          Aurantech - HERON 3D mesh model of the underground mine
          Fig 3. HERON 3D mesh model

          « What we had to do was just to set up some control points using a total station and then simply walk with HERON. Software and hardware made the work easier and supplied us with a complete solution. HERON is a reliable, simple and high-performance 3D solution »
          Sherry Wang
          AURANTECH | Commercial Manager


          • Generate a precise map of an old tunnel where tripod laser scanners or GPS cannot be used.
          • Build a measurable 3D model of the underground mine starting from the 3D point cloud.


          • 3D point cloud model
          • Depth calculation
          • Area calculation
          • Cross-sections
          • Volume calculation

            Aurantech - CAD environment: cross sections of the HERON point cloud model of the underground mine
            Fig 4. CAD environment: cross sections of the HERON point cloud model


            • Work without GPS or GNSS sensors
            • Precision of final results
            • Management of wide and different data


            • SURVEYING SYSTEM: HERON AC-1 and total station
            • SURVEYING AREA: 250,000 sqm abandoned mine
            • SURVEYING TIME: 6 hours
            • PROCESSING SOFTWARE: HERON Desktop and JRC 3D Reconstructor
            • PROCESSING TIME: 18 hours


            Aurantech | www.aurantech.com
            Aurantech is a high-tech company situated in Shangai (China) featured to provide complete 3D solutions; highly experienced in 3D project services from 3D data collection, 3D data processing to 3D information management system for final customers.

            27 June 2018


            ARCHITECTURAL SURVEYING OF A HISTORICAL BUILDING Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Memorial Hall, Guanzhou (CHN)

            PDF versione italiana


            KEYWORDS: Cultural heritage | JRC 3D Reconstructor | 3D Laser Scanner | Chinese architecture

            Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Memorial Hall
            Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Memorial Hall Building

            NEEDS AND GOALS

            • Recording details and conditions of structure and decoration
            • Creation of fine 3D file of the historical building
            • Creation of fine 3D dataset including point clouds, CAD, photos, etc.
            • Providing 3D point cloud models for displaying and disseminate
            • Providing the online 3D model for promotion

            The Dr Sun Yat-Sen’sMemorial Hall is located in Guangzhou, China. It was built in 1929 in honour of Mr Sun Yat-Sen(the forerunner of the great democratic revolution in China) and designed by the famous architect Lu Yanzhi (1894-1929). The building has an octagonal structure and it is a combination of the Chinese traditional palace style and the Western modern space and structure design method. The two goals of the project were: 

            1. To conduct a comprehensive digital survey and acquisition of the 3D information of the historical building. 
            2. To create a fine 3D file with all the information of the preservation status of structure, decoration and equipment. This huge building was used for many years and is full of precarious equipment, structures, and decorative components, which caused lots of difficulties both for laser scanning activities and point cloud postprocessing.

            Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Memorial Hall Point cloud model
            Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s Memorial Hall Point cloud model

            « Thanks to JRC 3D Reconstructor we obtained the registration of more than 500 scans quickly and accurately. »
            Prof. Yangting
            SCUT | South China University of Technology

            Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Memorial Hall section
            Building section with reflectance

            The Gexcel software allowed to extract from the point cloud the building’s plans, elevations and sections, necessary to generate the CAD drawings in a 1:100 scale. With a highly collaborative group and AutoCAD® integration, a final 3D database of the Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s Memorial Hall was established for follow-up research, displaying and promotional activities. The work was successfully completed in 2 weeks.


            • Generation of 3D point cloud models in a short time
            • Fast automatic registration of point cloud
            • Easy and quick key points generation: accurate sections of structure and details (structure, high-value elements, etc.)


            • SURVEYING SYSTEM: FARO X130 & FARO X330 with RICOH THETA
            • SURVEYING AREA: 8.700 sqm
            • PROCESSING SOFTWARE: JRC 3D Reconstructor Heritage-Architectural | AutoCAD
            • SURVEYING TIME: 3 days
            • PROCESSING TIME*: 15 days


            • Full coloured point cloud of the whole building (inside and outside, view on multiplatform)
            • AutoCAD® drawings for plans, elevations, sections in a 1:100 and 1:50 scale
            • Point cloud slice showing structural deformations and damage status

              Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Memorial Hall 2D technical table
              Building technical table, 2D CAD plan view


              Guangzhou SIKAN Surveying &MappingTechnology Co., Ltd. | SCUT  en.scut.edu.cn/
              Technical consultant company dedicated to providing survey and supporting services for the reconstruction of historic buildings, renovation of old cities, and renovation of cultural relics with the aim to provide effective and reliable 3D data and archives for today's urban construction.

              26 June 2018


              FROM LASER SCANNER SURVEY TO 3D BIM MODEL Chigi Palace, Rome (IT)

              PDF versione italiana


              KEYWORDS: Engineering | Heritage | BIM | Heron | 3D Mapping 

              The Chigi Palace is a historic building, in the heart of Rome, currently the seat of the Government of the Italian Republic. The entire building was taken over for the purpose of constructing a 3D BIM model aimed at energy redevelopment, therefore without the need for millimetric accuracy.

              HERON outside the Chigi Palace

              « The survey with HERON was very useful for the creation of the BIM model. Simply walking through the rooms of the historic building, we quickly got an enormous amount of data, subsequently used by the customer for CAD modeling.»
              Giorgio Dotti
              Gexcel | Surveyor

              NEEDS AND GOALS

              • 3D survey of the historic building for energy efficiency
              • Speed and confidentiality during the course of the survey
              • Creation of a BIM model

              The quick execution of the survey campaign was made possible thanks to the integration of several relevant methodologies, in particular, thanks to the real-time mobile acquisition made with HERON.

              HERON during the Chigi courtyard survey and HERON point cloud 3D model integration
              Fig 2. HERON during the Chigi courtyard survey | Fig 3. HERON point cloud 3D model integration

              HERON AC-1 MAIN BENEFITS

              • Efficiency: saving time and money 
              • Effectiveness of the functions
              • Accuracy of the final results
              • Managment of different data types (mobile and static scanners)

                Zoller+Fröhlich laser Scanner 51010C "Sala dei mappamondi" static scan acquisition
                Fig 4. Zoller+Fröhlich laser Scanner 51010C "Sala dei mappamondi" static scan acquisition

                In The survey phase with HERON took place in the internal and external regions of the building, for a duration of 3 days and a total of about 25.000 m², divided into 94 dynamic acquisitions with a resolution of about 2 cm. At the same time, 54 detailed scans (with an average resolution of 4 mm) were captured with Z+F static laser scanner, then georeferenced by classical topography.

                  HERON point cloud inserted into Chigi Palace BIM model
                  Fig 5. HERON point cloud inserted into Chigi Palace BIM model

                  Starting from the point clouds, we worked with special modelling software to obtain the 3D reconstruction of the building.

                  • Georeferenced point cloud 
                  • 3D Model
                  • BIM modelling of the all building

                  TECHNICAL DETAILS
                  • SURVEYING SYSTEM: HERON AC-1 - Zoller+Fröhlich 5010C
                  • SURVEYING AREA: 2.500 sqm
                  • SURVEYING TIME: 3 days, 25.000 m²
                  • PROCESSING SOFTWARE: HERON Desktop - JRC 3D Reconstructor - ArchiCAD
                  • DATA PROCESSING TIME: 1 month for the final result


                  CSG Palladio | www.csgpalladio.org
                  Polytechnic laboratory for companies and professionals requiring clear answers in the field of materials technology, structures, civil construction, industrial research and cultural heritage. The Client requested to Gexcel the rental with operator of the HERON equipment for the data acquisition activities. The data processing and the final delivery were performed by the Client.

                  21 June 2018


                  AS BUILT VERIFICATION TO PLAN NEW STRUCTURAL CHANGES Hospital in North of Italy

                  PDF versione italiana

                  PROJECT DESCRIPTION

                  KEYWORDS: Engineering | Architecture | Hospital redevelopment | Heron | 3D Mapping 

                  The healthcare sector is always in constant evolution. In order to stay at the forefront from the point of view of diagnosis, there is often the need to introduce more advanced machinery whose placement within the hospital space must be adequately planned. In many cases it is necessary to completely rethink the rooms, taking care not to hinder the hospital routine or to cause inconvenience to the patients.

                  « The use of HERON AC-1 for the detection of some hospital internal environments has allowed obtaining a 3D model in a very short time, without interfering with the hospital's operational routine.»
                  Massimo Dierna
                  Gexcel | Civil engineer

                  NEEDS AND GOALS

                  • To obtain the real state of the building in order to plan the implementation of new technical rooms.
                  • To acquire 2D and 3D data quickly and discreetly without disturbing the guests of the structure.
                  • To not interrupt or hinder the regular functioning of the hospital.

                  Outdoor and indoor 3D Mapping with HERON
                  Fig 1. HERON outdoor and indoor mapping

                  In this specific case, the client decided to proceed with a rapid survey carried out using the HERON instrument, thanks to which it was possible to detect 3 wings in just 20 minutes, simply by walking along corridors, rooms, and stairsDuring data processing, it was possible to extract the point cloud 3D model and compare it with existing 2D maps.  The plans of the detected environments were then updated: orthophotos of the 3D model were generated and subsequently imported and vectored in CAD.

                  HERON AC-1 MAIN BENEFITS

                  • Efficiency: time and economic saving.
                  • Integration: management of very large dataset, with the possibility of automatically integrating data from terrestrial or handheld laser scanners. 
                  • Quick and frequent update of 2D and 3D maps, thanks to Heron’s automatic localization capability. Survey easily managed by operators with minimal knowledge of surveying.

                    HERON survey hospital x-ray orthophoto
                    Fig 2. HERON survey with its trajectory. Fig 3. Hospital x-ray orthophoto 

                    HERON survey section CAD floor plan
                    Fig 4.  HERON survey section (in purple) comparing with the existing CAD floor plan


                    • 3D point cloud model
                    • CAD maps in 1:200 scale
                    • Windows position into the CAD map

                    TECHNICAL DETAILS
                    • SURVEYING SYSTEM: HERON AC-1
                    • SURVEYING AREA: 2.500 sqm
                    • SURVEYING TIME: 20 minutes
                    • PROCESSING SOFTWARE: HERON Desktop - JRC 3D Reconstructor
                    • DATA PROCESSING TIME: HERON Data 1 day - CAD Plans 3 days


                    The Client required to Gexcel the rent of HERON with operator for the surveying activities and the data processing delivery. For a privacy agreement, Gexcel is not allowed to show the Client’s name.