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All About Triangulation

Survey Legend
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In trigonometry and geometry, triangulation is the process of determining the location of a point by measuring angles to it from known points at either end of a fixed baseline, rather than measuring distances to the point directly. The point can then be fixed as the third point of a triangle with one known side and two known angles. Triangulation can also refer to the accurate surveying of systems of very large triangles, called triangulation networks. This followed from the work of Willebrord Snell in 1615--17, who showed how a point could be located from the angles subtended from three known points, but measured at the new unknown point rather than the previously fixed points, a problem called resectioning. Surveying error is minimized if a mesh of triangles at the largest appropriate scale is established first. Points inside the triangles can all then be accurately located with reference to it. Such triangulation methods were used for accurate large-scale land surveying until the rise of global navigation satellite systems in the 1980s. Applications Optical 3d measuring systems use this principle as well in order to determine the spatial dimensions and the geometry of an item. Basically, the configuration consists of two sensors observing the item. One of the sensors is typically a digital camera device, and the other one can also be a camera or a light projector. The projection centers of the sensors and the considered point on the object's surface define a (spatial) triangle. Within this triangle, the distance between the sensors is the base b and must be known. By determining the angles between the projection rays of the sensors and the basis, the intersection point, and thus the 3d coordinate, is calculated from the triangular relations.As these are very important for large areas of surveying. Distance to a point by measuring two fixed angles The coordinates and distance to a point can be found by calculating the length of one side of a triangle, given measurements of angles and sides of the triangle formed by that point and two other known reference points. The following formulae apply in flat or Euclidean geometry. They become inaccurate if distances become appreciable compared to the curvature of the Earth, but can be replaced with more complicated results derived using spherical trigonometry. Calculation Therefore Using the trigonometric identities tan α = sin α / cos α and sin(α + β) = sin α cos β + cos α sin β, this is equivalent to: From this, it is easy to determine the distance of the unknown point from either observation point, its north/south and east/west offsets from the observation point, and finally its full coordinates. History Triangulation today is used for many purposes, including surveying, navigation, metrology, astrometry, binocular vision, model rocketry and gun direction of weapons. The use of triangles to estimate distances goes back to antiquity. In the 6th century BC the Greek philosopher Thales is recorded as using similar triangles to estimate the height of the pyramids by measuring the length of their shadows and that of his own at the same moment, and comparing the ratios to his height (intercept theorem); and to have estimated the distances to ships at sea as seen from a clifftop, by measuring the horizontal distance traversed by the line-of-sight for a known fall, and scaling up to the height of the whole cliff. Such techniques would have been familiar to the ancient Egyptians. Problem 57 of the Rhind papyrus, a thousand years earlier, defines the seqt or seked as the ratio of the run to the rise of a slope, i.e. the reciprocal of gradients as measured today. The slopes and angles were measured using a sighting rod that the Greeks called a dioptra, the forerunner of the Arabic alidade. A detailed contemporary collection of constructions for the determination of lengths from a distance using this instrument is known, the Dioptra of Hero of Alexandria

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