Mobile Laser Scanning – The New Frontier

By on 30 October, 2012

Mobile Laser Scanning is spatial science's new frontier and Perth based survey and spatial information firm McMullen Nolan Group is at the technology's forefront in Australia.

MNG are MLS pioneers and have been innovating and evolving MLS since 2009. It recently purchased a second MLS unit to help cater to the Australian demand for the service on infrastructure projects. 

MNG’s new scanner uses a phase-based approach for data measurement, enabling dense ‘point cloud’ data collection (one million points per second) and provides measurement accuracy to within millimetres. This allows operational flexibility and scope to carry out corridor scanning surveys faster and more accurately for features including ruts, corrugations, cracks, roads and sleeper health checks, rail cracking and turn-out condition checks and road surfaces prone to water pooling. 

MLS technology is rapidly growing and has made a huge impact on road and rail corridor surveys through its speed, safety and its data set collection accuracy. The MNG MLS consists of three components – high accuracy GPS unit, inertial measurement unit and a laser scanner. Once these technologies are combined they are able to comprehensively measure all features along a corridor and effectively bring the real world into a computer in the form of a ‘point cloud’. Once the ‘point cloud’ is downloaded, surveying can be done at the computer. This process offers advantages including: 

Safety – MLS delivers a safer way of acquiring data with minimal disruption to traffic. Data is collected while staff sit inside the vehicle.

Accuracy – MNG has integrated three measurement systems that, when combined with field survey techniques, create an output of un-precedented accuracy.

Speed – Capturing at highway speed, combined with easy assembly and transportation, enables quick data and project turnaround.

Elimination of Duplicate Surveys – Surveyors can extract additional data sets from collected data as required without having to go back to the field.

This image is a ‘point cloud’ produced from multiple passes of a road with the MLS recording data at one million pps and a spin rate of 200Hz. This is a ‘point cloud’, not a photo. Each point in the data dense cloud is accurate to millimetres. From this data you can easily extract 10m or 20m cross sections, road roughness data, line markings, posts, signage and local vegetation information. 


For more information about McMullen Nolan Group’s Mobile Laser Scanning services please contact McMullen Nolan Group Laser Scanning Manager John Nolan on +61 86436 1599, or email

McMullen Nolan Group
Level 1, 2 Sabre Crescent
Jandakot WA 6164
T: +61 8 6436 1599
F: +61 8 6436 1500

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