By Sean Dowdall, LCI General Manager
Gene Roe is the founder and managing editor of LiDAR News. Landis Communications Inc.’s work with our client Velodyne Lidar connected us to Gene and his publication. Gene is an engineer and entrepreneur, founding and assisting emerging technology companies in their growth. Gene lives virtually online – and also in New Hampshire.
- Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a civil engineer by training and education. My father owned a bulldozer and trucks, so I have been immersed in construction my entire life. I have worked in just about all types of careers – federal and state government, academia, consulting firm, software start-ups, world leading CAD firms, real estate development, construction and media.
I am an early adopter. I have always been attracted to new technology, beginning with the EDM – the electronic distance measuring device in 1978 and the very first desktop survey computers. From there I went on to total stations and eventually laser scanners and mobile lidar.
In the late 1990’s I was part of a team that secured two patents involving GPS and mapping. We based our claims on the use of a micro-display because there were no cell phones. The micro-display never caught on. Ask Google about Google Glass.
- Why did you start Lidar News?
I am a weird civil engineer in that I love to write. I always had in the back of my mind that I would start a publication. Finally, in 2008 my 16-year-old son convinced me to start a blog, after first explaining what it was. That was Lidar News. About 5 years ago, we expanded it into a website. With the help of my son and daughter, we are building our digital media empire.
With over 50 years in surveying and mapping, I have a fair bit of experience and have no interest in retiring – so with the addition of drones, autonomous vehicles and AR/VR, there is no shortage of new markets for lidar to cover.
- What are some of your favorite or most important stories that you have covered?
I think the one with the most shock value is the fire at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France. The only good news is that it was scanned in high detail a couple of years before.
I am the Chair of the ASTM e57 data interoperability subcommittee that created what has become a worldwide standard for point cloud data.
I have been slowly working on helping “Younger Geospatial Professionals” to advance their careers. We have a Linked in group that we encourage 3D professionals of all ages to join. This is the future of our profession.
- What are the trends in the lidar industry?
The biggest trend is the democratization of lidar, thanks in no small part to the new iPhone 12 Pro that is just coming out. The invention of solid state lidar is key to consumer grade lidar. AI is hopefully going to have a major impact on automating the 3D modelling effort.
Augmented and virtual reality as well as gaming (already big) are going to be huge once we get 5G. Lidar sensors will be a big part of the Internet of Things.
- What are some of the most interesting uses for lidar that you have seen?
Custom fabrication of buildings where every exterior panel is different is amazing. Reverse engineering parts is cool. The archaeology profession has been revolutionized by airborne lidar.
And, of course, autonomous vehicles – which are not going to be driverless for much longer than people were originally predicting.
- What media outlets do you pay attention to?
I really have to track a broad sampling, so I use Google searches. Lidar is a hot topic and becoming hotter all the time.
Got a question for Gene? Please comment below or tweet him @LidarNews.
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