Surveying reality (SurReal): Software to simulate surveying in virtual reality

Dimitrios Bolkas, Jeffrey Chiampi, Joseph Fioti, Donovan Gaffney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Experiential learning through outdoor labs is an integral component of surveying education. Cancelled labs as a result of weather, the inability to visit a wide variety of terrain location, recent distance education requirements create significant instructional challenges. In this paper, we present a software solution called surveying reality (SurReal); this software allows for students to conduct immersive and interactive virtual reality labs. This paper discusses the development of a virtual differential leveling lab. The developed software faithfully replicates major steps followed in the field and any skills learned in virtual reality are transferable in the physical world. Furthermore, this paper presents a novel technique for leveling multi-legged objects like a tripod on variable terrain. This method relies solely on geometric modeling and does not require physical simulation of the tripod. This increases efficiency and ensures that the user experiences at least 60 frames per second, thus reducing lagging and creating a pleasant experience for the user. We conduct two leveling examples, a three-benchmark loop and a point-to-point leveling line. Both surveys had a misclosure of 1 mm due to observational random errors, which demonstrated that leveling can be conducted with mm-level precision, much like in the physical world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number296
JournalISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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