Sam Billingsley Named “UAV Visionary” by Commercial UAV News

Commercial UAV News just named Sam Billingsley one of the “Top 7 Drone Visionaries” in the Surveying & Mapping Market. As the Director of the Reality Capture Group at Ragan-Smith, Sam is responsible for managing all Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) projects and the implementation of UAV collections within our Survey Department.

It’s always nice when others recognize you for your work. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize the fact that it took a team effort to get to where we are today. I owe more people thanks than I could possibly mention here; from UAV manufacturers, Re-sellers, other UAV operators, and of course, many in-house at Ragan-Smith. I’m just glad it’s paid off with production ready results. That’s more than I can say for most of my R&D projects!         -Sam Billingsley

For a full listing of all of UAV News’ 2018 Visionaries can be found here.

From Digital Reality to Digital Realty

Ragan-Smith is now using our Pro2 camera to create digital versions of models homes for our clients. The interactive presentation really stands out in a sea of PDFs and still images. This has  proven especially valuable to those moving from out of town that are unable to visit the builder’s model home. This single interface allows users to view floor-plans, a “dollhouse” 3D model, or to explore the interior in an immersive style similar to Google “StreetView”; and all from data that can be embedded on your own website.

Additionally, custom builders are finding it to be a great way to let their clients “experience” a design as opposed to trying to understand design drawings. By capturing examples as they are completed, these builders are creating a library of design options that clients can view online or “walk-through” using VR goggles from Google Cardboard to the Oculus Rift!

Passageways 2.0 Pro2 Mesh

RSA Helps Passageways 2.0 Competition

Ragan-Smith recently competed field data capture of an alleyway near our office in Chattanooga, TN to assist with Passageways 2.0. Passageways 2.0 is a design competition to “enhance a new downtown alleyway in the heart of Downtown Chattanooga’s City Center”.

The competition is presented by River City Company, Cogent Studios, and Public Art Chattanooga as an opportunity to recreate an existing alleyway into a destination for pedestrians in downtown Chattanooga. Through an open RFP process, they sought “unique, innovative design concepts with a cohesive artistic vision from multi-disciplinary design teams”. Forty-five proposals were submitted representing 11 countries including the United States, Italy, France, Canada, Malaysia, India and China.

Three semi-finalists have been selected to further develop site specific designs to permanently activate the proposed alleyway and create a vibrant pedestrian corridor that is habitable and can be adapted for use as a small public event space. Ragan-Smith assisted by capturing the existing conditions with our Matterport Pro2 for site visualization and with our Leica C10 laser scanner to capture more accurate dimensions on the entire site. This data was then used to create a Building Information Model (BIM) of the site in Revit that was sent to the three semi-finalists to aid in the development of their construction plans.

A winning team and concept will be announced in Spring 2018 and installed Fall of 2018. Passageways 2.0 is made possible by generous grants from the Benwood and Lyndhurst Foundations. Keep up with the project and see the submissions on the Passageways 2.0 Website. You can visit the 3D Space yourself or view it through the video below.

Ragan-Smith Acquires New Matterport Pro2 System

Our Reality Capture Group recently expanded their capabilities through the acquisition of a new 3D imaging system. The Matterport Pro2 system is a short range 3D camera system that can aid in creating virtual environments and Google Street-view like websites. This acquisition has also allowed us to beging working with Leica Geosystems and Matterport to integrate the Pro2 with Leica’s BLK360 laser scanner. This Beta program is designed to connect both sensors through a single control system for data capture. By combining the best of each system, Ragan-Smith will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in capturing and modeling as-built environments at various levels of accuracy.

“We are really excited about this expansion of our capture capabilities. Since the inception of the Reality Capture Group here at Ragan-Smith, we have endeavored to continually add new sensors and mapping systems to the list of tools that we are able to leverage for the benefit of our clients. The Pro2 fits perfectly into this mission by enabling fast data capture and visual communication without requiring engineering grade services. We have also expanded our web services to host many of the 3D Spaces that we are now creating for our clients.”

– Sam Billingsley, Director – Reality Capture Group

Visit our 3D Space Page for sample data.

Sam Billingsley Presents at IPLSA Conference

Sam Billingsley, Director of the Reality Capture Group here at Ragan-Smith was asked to present at the 61st Annual Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association held this past February in Springfield, Illinois. Sam presented in the Reality Capture Workflow track along with Tom Bryant & Kelly Harris of Seiler Instrument, Matt Schrader of Hanson Professional Services, and Dave Kuxhausen of Woolpert. The focus of Mr. Billingsley’s presentation was using point clouds in the Trimble Business Center software suite (TBC). I can’t thank Seiler enough for the invitation to speak,” said Mr. Billingsley. “This was my first time attending IPLSA and it was rather impressive. I was able to attend some other sessions (which were quite informative) and met a lot of other TBC users that are getting into reality capture data.”

Point Clouds in TBC

For a more thorough look at TBC, check out his “Hands on Review” for SPAR3D in this month’s newsletter!

UAV Program Update – 2017 (End of Year)

Ragan-Smith began 2017 with the goal of determining whether or not Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones in most peoples vocabulary, were ready for production work. We performed extensive tests in late Winter that were detailed in a post on UAV Accuracy and another on UAV Volumetric Surveying. To sum those tests up, we were not very happy with the results. To be sure, they demonstrated that there were some limited applications for which UAVs were well suited. However, we weren’t ready to take those services to market given the accuracy level that most clients expect when they come to Ragan-Smith for services.

However, technology is ever developing. While it’s been less than a year since those initial tests we felt compelled to revisit the subject. Despite the earlier results, we never quit testing UAV systems in-house. Between hard learned lessons in best-practices for data collection and improvements in the associated hardware and software systems Ragan-Smith is now using UAVs for data collection on an almost weekly basis. The point of launching a Reality Capture Group at Ragan-Smith was to be able to bring the most up to date technology to bear on every project so that we were always using the most efficient system available to capture the needed data to serve our client’s needs. Adding UAVs to our existing lineup of traditional survey technologies, laser scanning, and mobile LiDAR has made for an exciting 2017. I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for us!

For a full review of our current UAV program’s accuracy and methodology check out this article on

BIMForum Fall Symposium Introduces New LOD Standards for BIM

The BIMForum announced the release of the latest Level of Detail (LOD) standards for Building Information Models (BIM) at the Fall Symposium which was held in Dallas, TX November 6-8. This year’s symposium was a group effort by the BIMForum, USIBD, And the Associated General Contractors of America. Additionally, new BIM implementation guides and Level of Accuracy (LOA) standards are also being prepared for release. Check out the linked article of 5 Takeaways from by RSA’s Sam Billingsley.

State of the industry: 5 takeaways from USIBD and BIMForum

Ragan-Smith Adds ReadySet Service For Construction Verification


ReadySet is a simple construction verification service that uses laser scanners to verify that form boards and stub-ups are set per design. By capturing the site prior to concrete being poured, RSA is able to locate errors when it is most cost effective to have them corrected. With clear, concise, and easy to understand reports delivered in 24-36 hours; ReadySet is helping general contractors insure quality work without slowing down their construction schedule. Check out the video below for a more detailed explanation along with a look at ReadySet’s reporting features.


Communication is the Key to Successful BIM

“3D Scanning has become commonplace on many projects, and can save hours of field verification.  It can also add layers of complexity, confusion, and frustration if not executed properly on a project.”         – Cool, a Point Cloud… Now What?

This article by Jordan Banning and Adam Muñoz for the Autodesk User Group International is an excellent primer on all of the issues that need to be understood or addressed in order to successfully implement a full scan to BIM project.

Read the Full Article