- Maxar, an Earth observation, and satellite imagery provider has positioned itself to meet the growing demand for 3D mapping.
- According to Frazier, one important objective for the geospatial business is to provide accurate worldwide representations of the Earth as a reference basis.
- Maxar is developing 3D mapping technology as part of a $39 million U.S. Army contract originally granted to Vricon for a 3D global terrain prototype
Maxar to meet 3D mapping demands
Access to extremely precise 3D maps of the Earth, which allow cars to recognize things and drive safely in new terrain, is a current technological gap in the autonomous vehicle business.
Maxar, an Earth observation, and satellite imagery provider has produced high-fidelity maps for military and government customers and is now positioning itself to meet the growing demand for this technology in commercial markets such as driverless cars, according to Tony Frazier, Maxar’s executive vice president of global field operations.
Maxar built a downtown St. Louis office in 2019 to assist its primary client, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which is constructing a new campus here known as Next NGA West.
According to Frazier, the business is witnessing the emergence of a vibrant geospatial industrial ecosystem in the area “that is not only about supporting NGA but also broader consumer applications.” Maxar is also looking to diversify its operations and reduce its dependence on federal contracts in the United States.
Integrating Vricon’s 3D technology
According to Frazier, one important objective for the geospatial business is to provide accurate worldwide representations of the Earth as a reference basis. Following the acquisition of high-resolution 3D mapping firm Vricon in 2020, Maxar has increased its efforts in this field. It is developing products that integrate the 3D technology of Vricon with the high-resolution satellite images of Maxar.
Cars, ships, and planes can navigate without GPS signals if precise reference mapping is used, according to Frazier. There are navigation procedures available today that allow a pilot to fly without GPS, but they are extremely manual operations that demand a lot of the pilot’s concentration.
Maxar has demonstrated 3D reference mapping on a vision-based navigation system used on a Saab Gripen jet fighter aircraft. Saab, a Swedish aerospace firm, originally held 50% of Vricon before being bought by Maxar.
During the test, the jet’s camera filmed a webcast of its flight route. According to Frazier, Maxar’s geo-registration software compared the broadcast to the 3D representation of the region kept on the aircraft. The technology can detect the precise location of the plane by comparing images in the live stream to 3D data, allowing the pilot to navigate without GPS.
According to Frazier, this was a significant demonstration that might open the door for more widespread usage of this technology.
Army contract for 3D global terrain
Meanwhile, Maxar is developing 3D mapping technology as part of a $39 million U.S. Army contract originally granted to Vricon for a 3D global terrain prototype, or a virtual depiction of the Earth that Army personnel may use online for training or planning operations.
The present contract calls for the creation of a prototype. According to Frazier, Maxar is striving to finish this prototype and anticipates receiving a manufacturing contract in the near future.