Real Earth Wins Microsoft 3D Mapping and Localization Competition

By Mike Ball / 26 Apr 2016
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Real Earth STENCIL sensorReal Earth, a developer of real-time 3D mapping and localization products, has announced that it has secured first place in Microsoft’s Indoor Localization Competition recently held in Vienna, Austria. Real Earth achieved the top ranking through their algorithms embedded in their STENCIL product. It was the only product to perform real time indoor localization without the use of infrastructure. In addition to having efficient algorithms, Real Earth’s success is due in part to use of the VLP-16 real-time 3D LiDAR sensor from Velodyne LiDAR, a developer of real-time 3D LiDAR sensors.

The Microsoft Indoor Localization Competition is a well-known annual benchmark for assessing many approaches to indoor localization. The purpose of the competition was to bring together real-time indoor location technologies and compare their performance in the same space. The competition had nearly 50 competitors in 2D and the more challenging 3D category.

Each team had 15 minutes to locate 15 markers throughout the evaluation area, the foyer of a large facility in Vienna. All results were compared to ground truth that was measured from a stationary terrestrial laser scanner. The competition was challenging because the venue was dynamic with many people moving throughout the space.

Real Earth was the only team to not rely on infrastructure in the 3D category and used only onboard sensors to provide localization. At the completion of the competition, the results showed Real Earth’s device to have the most accurate localization with 0.16-meter average error compared to ground truth.

Kevin Dowling, CEO of Real Earth said, “It has been exciting to be part of this competition and watch our algorithms perform in difficult and dynamic environments. I have seen LiDAR devices evolve since the 1980s from expensive large and heavy devices the size of a microwave oven to the small and lightweight devices of today, such as the Velodyne units. The developments in the near future will prove to be even more exciting as both autonomous and non-autonomous vehicles incorporate these devices.”

“As Real Earth’s success demonstrates, 3D LiDAR is a critical new element in effective and efficient localization,” said Mike Jellen, President and COO, Velodyne LiDAR. “The high resolution and mobility of the VLP-16 LiDAR Puck means faster inspections, and the 360 degrees of freedom our sensors deliver is ideal for data-gathering within enclosed facilities. While Velodyne LiDAR is already the established leader for vehicle-based mobile mapping, this kind of performance – in the absence of infrastructure or GPS accessibility — opens the door to scanning buildings from the inside, and leads to an array of new and exciting applications.”

Real Earth intends to build on the success of this competition by developing and improving software, algorithms, and products to produce the most accurate and reliable mapping and localization solutions for customers. Customers currently include automotive companies, construction companies, utilities and many others who need questions answered quickly, accurately and at the point of work.

Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact
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