Introduction to Machine Control

An area in which I place a great deal of thought these days is in machine control systems. Particularly those systems that are used as grade control for earth moving equipment, such as for dozers, excavators and road graders. This systems function using

1. Some type of positioning systems (usually GPS or Robotics)

2. Device interface (with or without hydraulic interfaces)

While this is an over simplification of the systems it serves the purpose of this introductory post, as the focus of this post is not on the systems themselves but rather the data, models, they consume.

The system with which I work daily is a product of Carlson Software. The machine mounted software is title Carlson Grade. Hats off to Carlson on their current product line-up, they are made right. All of the data files produced on one product are directly movable to their other software. So files created on the desktop platform are usable with their data collectors and their machine control systems. Nice.

 I have heard various arguments about what should be contained in a final and complete Digital Terrain Model. Some may argue that break lines and spot elevations need to remain in the final file. I don’t agree, neither does Carlson. I am of the opinion that the final DTM file should only contain defined planes and surfaces, no breaklines and no spot elevations. The edges of the plane segments should follow the breaklines, no need in storing redundant data.  

Carlson has two dtm files structures. The older of the two has the file extension .flt and it is a txt file containing triangle edge data. The newer and faster format has the file extension .tin and is a binary file containing vertices and triangle data.

I spend a lot of time interpreting civil site plans prepared by others and then building DTMs or TINs from them. As time goes on I hope to post a few tricks and approaches that I have found useful.

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2 Responses to Introduction to Machine Control

  1. Randy Noland says:

    Thanks for your comments. We at Carlson are very passionate about all of positioning and machine control with the intent of provide the easiest, most robust package that empowers the user.

    Stay tuned as we are in the middle of development for Carlson Grade 3.0 as well as other complimentary products.

    Randy Noland
    VP Sales & Marketing
    OEM / Business Development
    Carlson Positioning & Machine Control
    A Carlson Software Company

  2. Jason Kennedy says:

    First time blogger, good information. Just wondering if you have ever used Terramodel and if so how does it compare to Carlson.
    Ive been using Terramodel for a little over two years now ( mostly on road project) and found it easy to learn and use.

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