According to the web site of US company Geospatial Corporation, the US Geological Survey (USGS) predicts that sensors on unmanned aerial systems — drones to you and I — will greatly improve the inspection of complex infrastructure, including underground infrastructure.
Being able to accurately determine the location of underground infrastructure from the air might sound like science fiction, but according to Geospatial, aerial monitoring using a variety of sensors will make this possible. However this does come with the caveat “initial tests showed that the currently used aerial sensors must be adapted to handle the interference from the drone engines that is occurring since the sensors are much closer to the engine than in manned, fixed-wing aircraft.”
Geospatial also claims to be able to use aerial technologies to locate and geo-reference pipeline leaks (gas, oil & water), to determine the true coordinates of the leak location (in three dimensions) and to determine the size of the leak. Sounds impressive!
Geospatial also talks about “ground truthing”, determining the location horizontally and vertically of underground infrastructure to within 10cms.
“Ground truthing” is really just a fancy term for the difference between a location as determined by location technology and the real location “on the ground”.
However it does have rather different meanings, depending on the context. According to Wikipedia, in remote sensing, "ground truth" refers to information collected on location, and enables image data to be related to real features and materials on the ground. “The collection of ground-truth data enables calibration of remote-sensing data, and aids in the interpretation and analysis of what is being sensed,” it says.
It explains that the term has taken on a special meaning in the context of geographic information systems, because these have become very widespread.“If the location coordinates returned by a location method such as GPS are an estimate of a location, then the ‘ground truth’ is the actual location on earth.”
“Ground Truth” also has another quite distinct meaning, in the context of machine learning where it “refers to the accuracy of the training set's classification for supervised learning techniques,” and is “used in statistical models to prove or disprove research hypotheses,” but that's’ probably more than you wanted to know about ground truthing!
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