The assignee for this patent, patent number 8817238, is
Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Excavation machines of various descriptions find application in the installation, removal, and repair of below and above ground utilities and structures. Typical below ground utilities include water mains, sewers, conduit for electrical and communications lines, electrical and communications lines installed without conduit, subway transit tunnels, water tunnels and the like.
"Below ground installation of utilities such as electrical and communication lines removes the utility lines from the visual appearance of the landscape. The location of underground utilities is generally established in advance by design engineers and provided to persons installing the utilities in the form of drawings. Location includes not only the X-Y-axes location of the utility with respect to the surface of the earth, but also includes location on the Z-axis (e.g., the distance beneath the surface of the earth or possibly referenced to sea level). In practice, the actual location of underground utilities may deviate from the location described in preconstruction drawings because of interference below the surface of the earth resulting from rocks, or rock formation, trees, building foundations, or previously installed utilities unknown to the design engineers. In anticipation of the installation of additional below ground utilities and structures in the vicinity of a first structure, and in anticipation of possible repair or replacement of a first underground utility in a vicinity, and to prevent subsequent excavations from encountering unmarked sub-surface utility structures or sub-surface obstructions, engineers make a record of the location of the utility, as installed and possibly other sub-surface obstructions. Such locations are recorded on drawings known as 'as-built drawings'.
"Typically, multiple parties are involved in the production of as-built drawings, which subjects the process to lengthy production schedules and potential human error. A first party may prepare initial or crude as-built drawings in the field. These initial drawings may consist of red-line notations on a copy of the design drawings, the location of the as-built utility having been established by hand measurements and surveying instruments, for example. A second party may then transfer the first party's initial drawings and notes into a computer aided design tool, such as the program AutoCad.TM. or similar computer aided design tools, to prepare the finished as-built drawings.
"The instant invention finds utility with excavation machines including tracked excavators, wheel-based excavators, and tractor-based backhoes. It is known to determine the location of an excavator, or other machine for adjusting and moving surface and below surface earth by means of global positioning system (GPS) devices. The GPS device determines the location of its antenna. If the antenna is located on the machine, then the geographic location point of the machine may be determined by satellite triangulation.
"Currently, the location of a feature on a job site requires location of the GPS antenna at that location. While the location of sub-surface 'as-built' features on a job site may be found by locating GPS antennas at such features, such a task has limited advantages over hand measurements and surveying instruments. Notes of measurements and transfer of the as-built measurements to drawings remains a requirement. Typically, the as-built drawings will be a condition precedent to final payment to a builder or contractor by a utility company or municipality. Furthermore, GPS signals may be obstructed within a below ground level excavation, or by neighboring building structures or terrain.
"'Offsets' provide a useful addition to GPS location information. An offset is the distance, direction, orientation, and depth (or height) of a feature determined with respect to the location of the GPS antenna. When the offset is combined with a GPS-determined location, the location of the feature can be identified in three coordinates (X, Y, and Z). Identification of two points on a target feature discloses the orientation of the feature as well as the location of the feature."
In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent: "According to an embodiment of the present disclosure, a work vehicle is provided for locating a topographic feature at a job site. The work vehicle includes a chassis and a tool moveably coupled to the chassis to move earth at the job site. The tool is configured to be positioned at the topographic feature. The work vehicle also includes a positioning system that communicates data related to the geographic location of the work vehicle. The work vehicle further includes a computing system that communicates with the positioning system to determine the geographic location of the tool, the computing system determining the geographic location of the topographic feature when the tool is positioned at the topographic feature.
"According to another embodiment of the present disclosure, a work vehicle is provided for locating a topographic feature at a job site. The work vehicle includes a chassis and a tool moveably coupled to the chassis to move earth at the job site. The tool is configured to be positioned at the topographic feature. The work vehicle also includes a positioning system that communicates data related to the geographic location of the work vehicle and a computing system. The computing system has a memory with software. The software includes instructions that, when interpreted by the computing system, perform the steps of: determining an offset from the geographic location of the work vehicle to the tool; and combining the geographic location of the work vehicle and the offset to determine the geographic location of the topographic feature when the tool is positioned at the topographic feature.
"According to yet another embodiment of the present disclosure, a method is provided for locating a topographic feature at a job site from a work vehicle. The work vehicle includes a chassis. The method includes the steps of moving a tool relative to the work vehicle to position the tool at the topographic feature and determining the geographic location of the tool when the tool is positioned at the topographic feature, the geographic location of the topographic feature corresponding to the geographic location of the tool."
For more information, see this patent:
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