SBIR Phase I: A Novel Video-Based Software Application For Automatic And Accurate Roof Surveying

Period of Performance: 01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Metalforming Inc.
100 International Drive
Peachtree City, GA 30269
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will investigate the technical and commercial feasibility of designing a video-based roof surveying software. Roof surveying is an essential activity in sheet metal roofing projects. Several technologies have been evolved over the years for this purpose; however, none of them are safe, inexpensive, automatic, and accurate enough at the same time. Tape measurement is therefore still the standard practice despite its apparent limitations. This project will address this need by automatically generating an accurate 3Dwirediagram of a roof which includes necessary measurements. If successful, it will be the world?s first videobased roof surveying software that fulfills all industry requirements (accuracy, simplicity, cost, safety, and efficiency). When using it, a roofing contractor simply collects stereo video from a roof and sends it to a server for processing. Unlike existing vision-based software that only use point level information, the software uses a hybrid formulation that combines points, lines, and planes. This higher level information enhances the output accuracy to the required level. Once measurements are automatically extracted and sent back, the contractor uploads them to an on-site roll forming machine to roll form and cut sheet metal coil into precise, ready to install panels. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to address inherent deficiencies of current technologies for roof surveying and bring the sheet metal roofing trade up to the modern standards of CAD/CAM used in many other industries. Compared to tape measuring, this project will significantly reduce measuring costs and also eliminate the exposure of employees to fall hazards, thereby decreasing the very high number of occupational injuries and fall deaths which occur in the roofing industry (7% of private construction fatalities in 2009). The simplicity of the application will remove the need for trained surveyors which are required for surveying with a total station. It could also provide more accurate measurements compared to satellite imaging technology and hence satisfy industry requirements. Beyond the target industry (i.e., sheet metal roofing), this solution could be used by virtually any roofing contractors worldwide. It could also be adapted to many of the other building trades where as-built documentation is required to build components, including metal façade manufacturers/installers and HVAC contractors. This, in turn, will result in time and cost savings, which can improve the efficiency of the construction industry. Surveying equipment manufacturers and surveying companies are the other key players in the target market of this application.