History of Land Survey Equipment| December 23, 2020
Since ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Rome, man has used tools to measure and keep his boundaries and separate himself from his neighbors. While the use of such tools was all but lost in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance saw a resurgence in interest and need for tools to survey and parcel the land around them. Many tools still used today are similar to those used to map and survey the initial settlements. We are at the dawn of a new era, however, where technology that has not drastically changed in the past hundreds of years are being introduced to the computer age, which has served to only make man’s estimations even more accurate than before.
In its earliest forms, one of the main tools for conducting land surveys was a chain (sometimes known as Gunter’s chain) of a specific length. These chains would be pulled taut, and attempts were made to hold the measure level in order to improve accuracy.
Leaps and bounds in accuracy in surveying were made with the introduction of such equipment as the surveyor’s compass and theodolite. The surveyor’s compass, or circumferentor, consisted of a brass circle and an index; on the circle was a compass. It was used to measure horizontal angles. A theodolite could measure both horizontal and vertical angles. Because of the greater accuracy, the theodolite was the preferred tool for surveyors throughout Europe by the early 1800s. However, because of its bulk, the surveyor’s compass was still used in heavily wooded areas, leading to its resurgence in popularity during the Colonial period in the United States.
Theodolites, though more sophisticated versions, were still used as late as the 1990s for simple surveys, along with other equipment to improve the accuracy. More recently, modern electronics have improved on the theodolite with the addition of an electronic distance measurement device, or EDM; these tools are referred to as Total Station. In a short period of time, total stations have gone from being mechanical/electronic devices to purely electronic systems with onboard computers and software.
Global Positioning Systems have also entered the arena of a land survey, and have steadily gained knowledge and use in the private sector. For land surveying, however, they were not always as accurate as the surveyor would wish. Though they have increased the speed of surveying, GPS systems are only horizontally accurate to 20mm and vertically accurate to about 30mm. Additionally, GPS systems have problems functioning properly in heavily wooded areas. In many cases, surveyors will still rely on their total station in conjunction with other equipment such as laser scanners. Where the budget is large enough, a helicopter equipped with a GPS and Lidar system can verify the findings on the ground.
While the technology used by land surveyors has been changing and moving forward by leaps and bound in the last 25 years, even the most advanced technology can only do so much. Land surveying remains an art, with the expertise of the surveyor cannot be replaced by technology. The surveyor must investigate and infer what the true boundaries of any property may be using both the technological and historical information they have at hand.
We at Point to Point Land Surveyors pride ourselves on the accuracy, customer service, and quality work delivered on time, guaranteed. Residential land surveys are a specialty.
However, in our time Land Surveying Instruments are become so Advance that they can do almost any task with perfect accuracy. Even a Total Station has now become so advanced that it doesn’t even require more than a surveyor to do the Work, i.e. Robotic Total Station.
In the Modern Era, These surveying Instruments play a significant role in the World, from Surveying to Construction to Mining to mapping… every such process requires a unique kind of Surveying Instrument to fulfill the needs and wants accurately.
There are even Multiple brands available that rule the Surveying Instruments World, One of such is “Topcon” which is a Japanese brand widely known throughout the world as a leader in the manufacturer of equipments for surveying and Construction.
Topcon manufactures a wide range of Instruments like Total Station which further categorized as A Manual Total Station and Robotic Total Station, Auto Level, Digital Level, Gyro, Theodolite, DGPS Continuous Reference Station ( CORS), and more. Topcon has also partnered with Skipper Technologies to distribute these Instruments exclusively in India.