In an interview with Richard Zambuni, Bentley’s Global Marketing Director, Geospatial & Utilities, Benoit Fredericque, Product Manager II (Responsible for Bentley MicroStation/Descartes Point Cloud Product Management and 3D City GIS), and Faraz Ravi, Director of Product Management (Responsible for Pointools), Bentley Descartes 8i new functionality was discussed.
According to the press release, Bentley Descartes V8i (SELECTseries 3) offers 3D modeling that combines point clouds, raster imagery, and geometry. The resulting models enhance the usability of point clouds by supporting hybrid design workflows that deliver “as-operated” 3D models to serve the operations and maintenance needs of owner-operators. By uniquely enabling hypermodeling – the intuitive navigation of as-operated models in 3D context that includes engineering information in any form – Bentley is committed to enhancing infrastructure safety and resilience while increasing owner-operators’ returns on their engineering investments.
Zambuni said that point cloud data is becoming ubiquitous, as gathering data is becoming more cost effective. “ The challenge has been to bring data into workflows in an efficient way,” Zambuni said. Those who make use of this data include infrastructure engineering workflows, design, construction, operation or planning and designing.
“Initially, we licensed the Vortex engine from Pointools to allow us to visualize, animate and view point clouds in MicroStation, but then we wanted to make point clouds a fundamental data type which means we can manage them alongside raster and vector.” The questions remained, how do we support visualization, animation in MicroStation and how do we deliver the advanced processing of point clouds that people need which we are going to support in Descartes and Pointools? What do you do in extended and enterprise workflows?
“That’s where ProjectWise streaming services come in, where you can literally isolate the elements of the point clouds you want to work with and stream them into a desktop session,” said Zambuni. “This allows you to get all the advantages you want with ProjectWise and workflow management and getting files aligned with projects. You can really bring point clouds into extended workflows rather than have them sit on thumb drives or hard drives somewhere or fedexing them around, it starts making them manageable in the way you manage DWG and DGN or any other engineering documentation.”
This is not just about individual products, he cautions, but rather about workflows and supporting point clouds in a very connected way across a range of products.
Scalable terrain models (STMs) are slightly different from point clouds as they are so huge and people must slice and dice them to bring them into projects. Often a very large STM can’t be used because it is unmanageable.
“We have made technology that allows you to to bring an STM in, even if it’s billions of points and to view that, you can work with that single scalable STM at city, regional or country level and you do it quickly and effectively,” said Zambuni.
Fredericque said that with the adoption and growth of our aerial lidar sensors, more and more people use aeril lidar and ask for STMs with a large number of points, increasing the need for this data type. Most products cannot cope with the sheer size of these files. Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems, says this is part of the big data problem solving for users – the way Bentley can manipulate and process point clouds and bring STMs into engineering worfklows.
“It also is a big plus for geospatial workflows for national mapping agencies where you want to manage large scale geospatial projects,” said Fredericque.
Ravi said that Pointools engine was integrated into MicroStation in 2009 which by extension made it a part of the Bentley platform. Descartes has extra layers of Pointools functionality on top of the engine.
Bentley Descartes V8i (SELECTseries 3) running on MicroStation V8i (SELECTseries 3) advances information modeling, in particular for infrastructure assets and 3D cities, through:
- advanced point-cloud processing
- the ability to handle extremely large scalable terrain models
- 3D model texturing functionality