HUNTSVILLE, Ala. --In August, the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center’s Environmental and Munitions Center of Expertise (EMCX) hosted a technical training seminar for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers geophysicists focused on familiarization of simultaneous location and mapping, or SLAM, technology that will increase mapping production rates in thick vegetation where previously only tape measures or line-of-site robotic total station (RTS) technologies were available.
The EMCX is the USACE leader in the development and implementation of key technologies that improve safety, decrease cost, and attain Department of Defense Military Munitions Response Program cleanup goals. The Military Munitions Response Program is a program category under DOD’s Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP), establishing rules and guidelines for the purpose of identifying eligible properties and setting aside funding specifically to address properties posing human health and environmental risks due to the presence of military munitions.
The EMCX assists all DOD services and USACE organizational elements in performing their military munitions response related activities by maintaining state-of-the-art technical expertise for all aspects of response activities involving military munitions and providing MMRP specific training.
“Our focus was primarily to integrate SLAM technologies with MMRP geophysical equipment from vendors Kaarta and White River Technologies, Inc. to help integrate an alternative positioning system with advanced geophysical classification (AGC) technologies,” said John Jackson, EMCX geophysicist.
According to Jackson, AGC utilizes high resolution electromagnetic induction to classify metal objects in the subsurface as potentially a target of interest, such as a munition, or non-targets of interest such as scrap metal or fragmentation.
“The Kaarta technology utilizes the Stencil 2 and SLAM to create a LiDAR point cloud of the work area,” Jackson explained.
“Subsequently, the Stencil 2 is placed on a geophysical instrument in place of a GPS System and the Stencil 2 knows its location within the previously collected point cloud and provides the coordinates to the geophysical equipment.”
Jackson said the technology presents an opportunity for improved production rates.
“Projects using this technology have shown increases from 4-10 times previous production rates that were implemented with tape measure or RTS,” he said.
“Gaining an understanding of the technology will allow USACE personnel to perform work in forests where previously they could not, and an added bonus is that because there is a LiDAR point cloud as a final product, permanent structures and terrain features are also mapped and that information can also be used to inform the project.”
Jackson said the EMCX identified the capability of transitioning to this technology after an in-house pilot study was conducted.
“We’ve known about this technology in use for other applications for more than a decade. Since then, the resolution and software capabilities finally progressed to a place where it was accurate enough for our geophysical needs. We were able to utilize the Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) Innovative Technology Advocate (ITA) program to fund the effort.”