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Robotic total stations donated to School of Surveying

Friday 31 July 2020 3:58pm

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A generous gift ... Otago Surveying graduates Derek Shanks (front left) and Sharleen Cole-Swami (front centre) deliver five robotic total stations gifted to the School of Surveying on Friday, to the delight of the Dean of the School of Surveying Dr Christina Hulbe (front right) and other staff and students. Photo: Sharron Bennett

International surveying technology company Trimble has generously donated five robotic total stations to the University of Otago School of Surveying Te Kura Kairūri.

The donation has been organised by Trimble’s Marketing Manager Geospatial Robotic Total Stations Derek Shanks, who graduated from the School in 2010.

The robotics and ancillary equipment are worth around $260,000 in total and were presented to the School by Derek on Friday 10 July. Derek is based at Trimble in Colorado in the United States, but has been working remotely from Christchurch during the past few months.

Also attending the presentation was another Otago graduate, Sharleen Cole-Swami, who works for Trimble’s New Zealand agent AllTerra, and current Survey students’ president Charlene Phuong. Dean of the School Dr Christina Hulbe and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Sciences) Professor Richard Barker were also present.

Surveying lecturer Richard Hemi says they are very appreciative of the donation, which continues the support given to the School by both Trimble and AllTerra over a number of years.

He says the instruments will help modernise their teaching and provide them with a class set of the robotic equipment.

“It’s probably the first time we’ve had enough to do teaching as a group,” he says. “The robotics will help students to get hands-on experience with more modern instruments.”

They will be especially useful to senior students doing professional courses in their final year, so they can have access to the latest technology before heading off to the workforce as graduates.

Richard says many Otago graduates have been student interns at Trimble, and around 50 graduates have worked in their research and development area over the years, in Christchurch and overseas.

“We have an excellent relationship with Trimble and they have been a strong supporter of the School.”

The robotic total stations work remotely by following the surveyor, tracking them around, rather than having a surveyor behind an instrument and an assistant at a distance. As such, they reduce the number of people needed and speed up the process.

“The robotics and tablets have allowed us to update our equipment and students can feel they are getting marketplace access to these types of instruments”
They can also track construction machinery such as graders and diggers, following them to make sure the levels are right, and controlling the hydraulics.

The donation from Trimble also includes tablet controllers with embedded surveying software, which communicate with the robotic stations and store data.

“The robotics and tablets have allowed us to update our equipment and students can feel they are getting marketplace access to these types of instruments,” says Richard.