Robots and Lasers in Surveying the Earth


Mies Campus


Rising ninth–12th graders (ages 14–17)

Program Overview

Accurate spatial measurements are necessary for any major project involving natural and human-built systems, from tracking tectonic plate shifts along the Mississippi River, to making accurate flood plain maps, to locating buildings correctly in an urban environment. Fully digital total stations have supplanted the traditional theodolites for measuring distances and angles on the earth’s surface. With robotic assistance, they are very effective. Similarly, laser-based point-cloud generators are efficiently used to portray objects in a 3D formation, inside and outside. This program will provide a hands-on introduction about the latest surveying tools that will be used to map our planet.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the purpose and use of a robotic total station tool, such as a Trimble S9
  • Learn the purpose and use of a bulk point-cloud lidar generator, such as a Trimble Laser TX8 Scanner
  • Learn the various digital software tools that support modern surveying methods such as GIS and Trimble Realworks

Example Activities:

  • A lecture preparation and hands-on lab where students will use a robotic total station tool for measurement and traversing
  • A lecture preparation and hands-on lab where students will use a large-scale lidar scanner
  • A hands-on lab that includes working with software tools to visualize a 3D point cloud


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