From The Editor: The Road Ahead

A 236Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

Having been to the election crossroads and averted the fiscal cliff, news seems to be generally positive: the outlook for the construction industry is improving for 2013. The latest US Federal jobs report lists unemployment at 7.8% but a Washington Post report states one fifth of new jobs are in the construction industry. This is just the third time since June, 2009 the industry has recorded an increase.

As we prepare for the coming business opportunities, smart technology investment choices can make or break your company. Here are a few of my technology predictions for 2013 as they relate to 3D machine control, positioning and site management. Keep an eye on these trends and consider following their progress and how they might benefit your business.

GPS/GNSS—GNSS technology will continue to evolve into smaller, faster and more affordable boards. This is good for everyone and increases market penetration. This trend also breeds new, integrated products with high accuracy GNSS embedded.

LiDAR—Used as a 3D machine control sensor supporting semi-autonomous & autonomous positioning, LiDAR is maturing at an accelerated rate. Applications for machine positioning as well as creating faster, more accurate digital terrain models are growing. One good example is Caterpillar's licensing of Velodyne's technology in 2012 (see posting on MCo). This move likely signals semiautonomous and autonomous developments for machines and haul trucks.

The Cloud—The cloud hovers over many industries and positioning and machine control is no exception. Expect to see more site management, data analysis and connectivity all driven from the cloud.

Data File Compatibility—As more machines and applications are guided and controlled by positioning systems, data compatibility will become more and more important. Clients will demand standards and many providers will begin to respond to market needs.

M2M—Thanks to expanding wireless coverage, Machine to Machine connectivity is on the rise. A multitude of sensors already monitor status of position, temperature, idle time, etc. Multiple machines will be aware of the machines around them and such statuses, all in real-time. This integration will grow, offering more production from machines in tandem and in fleets. This facilitates machines producing in groups toward a task.

3D Visualization—Better 3D visualization simplifies user interfaces thus giving access to more and more applications. As computing power increases and bandwidth gets wider and faster, software engineers will apply better visualization. This will also helps in blind, underwater applications.

We will have to revisit this issue end of the year and see where I was right and where I might have missed the mark.  

A happy and prosperous 2013 to you and your businesses!

Randy Noland, Managing Editor/Cofounder

A 236Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

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