Leica Captivate Education series – The world’s first self-learning total stations and MultiStations

This week’s Leica Captivate Education series is about the first self-learning Total Stations and MultiStation. What better person to interview about this than Hans-Martin Zogg, product manager innovation for total stations and MultiStations at Leica Geosystems…

The latest generation of Leica Viva total stations and Nova MultiStations were launched together with the Leica Captivate experience in June 2015. Please tell us a bit more about these new products…
The new Leica Viva TS16 and Leica Nova TS60 total stations and the Leica Nova MS60 MultiStation are the world’s first self-learning total stations and MultiStations. They were developed, together with the new Leica Captivate software, for highly efficient collection of 3D data in the field and for use in all different kinds of environmental conditions, such as sun, dust, rain or poor visibility due to fog. The instrument is able to adjust to its surrounding environment and adapt itself automatically to those conditions. The result is fantastic measuring performance with an increase in range, time savings and reliability.

I am curious about a self-learning total station or MultiStation. Can you tell us what self-learning means?
Self-learning means that the latest generation of Viva and Nova total stations and MultiStation adjusts to actual environmental conditions that influence the visibility of the prism. Furthermore, self-learning instruments recognise and exclude non-relevant targets. It makes a big differ-ence for a total station if the prism is in the sun, in the rain or in foggy conditions. The visibility of the prism is crucial for successful measurements. Until now, the user had to set the right settings on the instrument to get the best measurement performance for the corresponding environment conditions. Now with the self-learning total stations and MultiStation, the user does not need to choose and set the settings. This is automatically done by the new instruments’ ATRplus technology. Foreign reflections such as bright shiny surfaces (e.g. windows, water surfaces, and cars), bright lights (e.g. car headlights or spotlights) or reflective working clothes are detected and can be distinguished from the reflection of the measurement prism. So that means, don’t worry about any settings – just go out and get the job done!


What is ATRplus and how did you implement it?
ATRplus is the new automated target aim and lock functionality of the latest generation of total station and MultiStations. ATRplus is based on CMOS imaging technology that detects, aims and tracks the prism. The instrument sends out a laser beam and the position of the reflected laser spot gets detected on the CMOS sensor. Thanks to the two dimensional array of the CMOS sensor, several prism spots and foreign reflections can be detected and differentiated by the image analysis. Furthermore, the telescope does not need to be exactly aimed on the prism. A deviation to the optical axis can be defined and added to the final angular measurements. Aside from the geometrical position of the laser spot, the intensity of the laser spots is also detected. This is required to be able to differentiate the measurement prism from other reflections.

What makes the new ATRplus so powerful?
It is the combination of the CMOS sensor and the latest image processing technology that makes the predominance of ATRplus possible. All of the latest generation instruments have new hardware architecture consisting of a 1GHz dual core processor, 1GB internal memory, new algorithms for image processing and new and optimised sensor synchronisation of the different sensors within a total station or MultiStation.

What is the influence of ATRplus on the automation of a Total Station?
When we talk about automation, we always refer to the automation cycle with Search, Lock and Re-Lock of a prism. It is about searching a prism as fast and reliable as possible, locking and following that prism and in case of losing the line-of-sight to the prism, to be able to re-lock as fast as possible as soon as the prism is within the total station’s field of view again. ATRplus supports the automation cycle in every step of Search – Lock – Re-Lock. Depending on the environmental conditions and the dynamics of the target, ATRplus automatically adapts its internal parameters to provide the user the best automation performance of the total stations and MultiStations. This means you complete your measurement tasks a lot quicker.

With the newly released total stations and MultiStation, you have introduced a PowerSearch filter. can you tell us a little more about the PowerSearch filter.
PowerSearch is the unique and fast technology from Leica Geosystems to search for prisms without the need for additional, battery powered and cost intensive technology on the prism pole. The PowerSearch filter helps to ignore non-relevant targets and supports PowerSearch to find only your relevant target. For instance, on larger construction sites it is not uncommon that here are several permanently installed prisms. The PowerSearch filter automatically detects all reflective objects and targets in the field of view around the total station and MultiStation. All the non-relevant targets get excluded and ignored for further PowerSearches. The PowerSearch filter is a very power full functionality that speeds up the whole automation cycle and increases your efficiency.

Speaking of automation, it is crucial to be able to follow and measure a dynamic target by a total station, e.g. in machine automation. What makes a total station a great automated total station?
Decisive for dynamic applications is that the total station delivers as many positions of the prism as possible with the highest accuracy. This requires that the instrument follows the prism and is able to measure the distance to the prism. The uptime – the time that the instrument is following and measuring onto the prism – has to be as long as possible to achieve the highest productivity. In terms of following and measuring a dynamic prism, the Leica Nova MS60 MultiStation is the best in class instrument available on the market. ATRplus, in combination with the Waveform Digitising distance measurement technology, enables the fast tracking and measuring of a prism to deliver positions with the highest possible accuracy and measurement rate.

To summarise: The total station or MultiStation used together with the new Leica Captivate software makes a surveyor’s daily measurement tasks into great experience – the Leica Captivate experience!

Click here to watch the ATRplus video
Click here to watch the PowerSearch filter video

Download the ATRplus White Paper_en PDF explaining even more details on ATRplus technology here.


Hans-Martin Zogg, product manager Innovation for total stations and MultiStations at Leica Geosystems



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