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LBS Augmented Reality Assistive System for Utilities Infrastructure Management through Galileo and EGNOS

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - LARA (LBS Augmented Reality Assistive System for Utilities Infrastructure Management through Galileo and EGNOS)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2017-12-31

LARA, “LBS Augmented Reality Assistive System for Utilities Infrastructure Management through Galileo and EGNOS is a project co- funded by European GNSS Agency under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The nine partner international consortium, led by the Cypriot SME GeoImaging Ltd, developed a mobile device to assist the utility management professionals on the field. The hand-held, low cost, mobile device integrates state-of-the-art technologies in the domain of positioning and sensors (GNSS), Augmented Reality (AR), 3D GIS geodatabases.
The LARA system promise is to provide field workers with the ability to ‘see beneath the ground’. LARA combines GNSS, 3D GIS and geospatial databases, and augmented reality in order to render complex 3D models of underground networks such as water, gas, sewerage and electricity. First, by locating the work zone on a GIS viewer, they will obtain a visual representation of the underground infrastructure and its attributes. Then, they can take advantage of the augmented reality engine to have an intuitive view of this infrastructure in 3D over a real image from the camera. Finally, after the work is done, they can use this same tool to generate reports and update existing infrastructure maps.
The potential impact of this technology is tremendous: according to a 2006 report (McMahon et all, 2006) It is estimated that in the UK alone the utility industry spends £1.5 billion a year to carry out street works and another £150 million to repair damage to neighboring grids. Moreover, it is estimated that the cost to society and the economy amounts to an additional £5.5 billion due to the socioeconomic impacts of lengthy street works – such as traffic congestion, material waste and delays.
LARA is equipped with a high precision, low power, long autonomy GNSS receiver module able to achieve accuracies at the level of a centimetre. The receiver —consists of a GNSS module and an IMU module— is able to work with multiple constellations including Galileo, EGNOS, and others, but Galileo is key to helping mprove accuracy, increase availability and integrity.
The LARA system will allow utility management companies to know exactly “where is what”, conducting far more accurate interventions regarding maintenance of their own underground infrastructure while keeping intact other neighboring underground grids. Precise intervention will reduce the overall maintenance cost, minimizing at the same time economic and social implications of lengthy surface works.

The overall objectives of LARA can be summarised below:
- Perform a holistic and in depth system analysis and design considering the user needs, evaluate hardware, design interfaces and draw the overall architecture
- Develop all the software and hardware development to deliver the system prototype
- Design and launch the pilots in 2 different sites
- Produce communication material and effectively disseminate project information to relevant stakeholders
- Draw an exploitation methodology and business plan
The LARA consortium achieved the following major results:

- LARA finalized development of the prototype delivering a fully functional system at the end of June 2017.
- The system was tested with 2 utility companies (users) in Kozani Greece and in Birmingham, UK and in test beds in Limassol and Nicosia Cyprus.
- LARA was also tested and presented within the VSMM2016 event in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia in order to promote the device to the South East Asia region.
- prepared a business plan to enter commercialization within the 3 quarter of 2018.

In summary the following dissemination and exploitation activities took place:

- 4 project newsletters
- 5 scientific publications
- 2 extended project videos and 1 demo kit.
- Participated in and/or organised 10 international events
- 59 press releases, interviews and presence to the media.
- launched 1 website with 3.000 unique visitors and 144942 total hits
- launched a twitter account with 400 followers and 68.499 impressions
- produced dissemination material in 4 languages
- has initiated business contacts and arranged demonstration with interested customers in France (3), in the UK (2) and in Dubai UAE
- Submitted an application for the Geospatial World Awards 2018
- Won the ESNC 2017 Madrid Regional Prize
- LARA is among the 10 finalist projects for the overall European Satellite Navigation Competition ESNC 2017 Award announced in Talin Estonia (7/11/2017)
Progress beyond the state of the art

The core components of the LARA system are based on: GNSS technology (Galileo/EGNOS/GPS), 3D GIS technology and geospatial databases, Computer Graphics and AR. From the hardware development point of view, a high precision positioning system has been developed embedded in the mobile device. A mobile 3D GIS supports users interact with complex, multi-source data sets on mobile, tablet and handheld devices using advanced interactive 3D visualisations. Rendering techniques for 3D visualisations are applied to optimise the benefit of AR for field workers.

Being able to pinpoint underground utilities located in an excavation area prior to conducting the work is a game changer for public and private utility companies. With the LARA system, they will know exactly where is what, thereby conducting far more accurate maintenance interventions on their own underground infrastructure while keeping other neighbouring underground grids intact. Precise intervention will reduce the overall maintenance cost, minimising at the same time economic and social implications of lengthy surface works such as unnecessary traffic congestion, pedestrian disruption, and material wastage, use of people’s time, increased energy demand, visual intrusion and noise.

More specifically the expected benefit from such a technology to the user can be summarized below:
- Achieve resource efficiency and avoid unpredictable costs that most of the times are shifted to the taxpayer.
- Minimize the overall cost and time of field excavations
- Minimize road or surface blocking time.
- Create bigger profit margins and increased competitive status within the existing or emerging markets.
- Reduce accidents and improve working conditions for the personnel on the field
- Μinimize environmental cost and obstructions to animal habitats
- Reduce the noise levels especially within urban areas