MoDiTa - Modular Digital Camera Tachymeter 2.0

Lahnstein measurement campaign in summer 2019 i3mainz, CC BY SA 4.0

The project builds on preliminary research on modular digital camera total stations “MoDiTa”, which was funded by the BMBF from 2009 to 2014 as part of the programme “Research at universities of applied sciences with companies”. The widely differing development cycles of the central system components were successfully decoupled at the time. As a result, we at i3mainz are now able to test and evaluate application-specific solutions based on prototype digital camera total stations.


Imaging geodetic total stations, so-called multistations, support surveyors through the direct use of digital image information and automated functions such as motorised focus. However, manual aiming is still done with the human eye through the eyepiece of the multistation. For selected special tasks, it is useful to replace the human eye behind the eyepiece with a high-quality industrial camera. In combination with a fast notebook, automatic image measurements can be carried out virtually in real time. This includes measuring tasks for which our human eye is too slow, e.g.

  • is too slow, e.g. for absolute precise position or direction determination in the millisecond range (in UTC),
  • is too slow, e.g. for recording bridge vibrations to assess the condition of the structure,
  • is too sensitive, e.g. for measuring views directly into a laser beam, so-called collimation targets.

The aim of this project is to develop, evaluate and practically test easy-to-use solutions for such special tasks with the help of digital image analysis or artificial intelligence methods (machine learning). We retain the outstanding accuracy properties of a geodetic multistation conceptually.


In addition to the accompanying software engineering by the people involved, student project groups have planned, implemented and evaluated numerous measurement campaigns on steel and reinforced concrete bridges of various designs from 2019 to 2021 using the prototypes of the Modular Digital Camera Total Station “MoDiTa” based on Leica Multistations MS50, MS60 and Leica Total Stations TS30, TS60. The aim was always the realistic evaluation of the current condition of the structure: Structural Health Monitoring. This work flows into the project Big Data Analytics in Environmental and Structural Monitoring (BAM). The BAM project is funded by the Carl Zeiss Foundation. Preliminary research on MoDiTa was made possible by BMBF funding in the Research Premium and FHprofUnd programmes.


We have built up a wealth of experience in the economic use of MoDiTa on relevant large-scale structures. We have established new contacts, from testing institutes for the construction industry to coordination centres for large-scale and heavy transport of the state police. In the medium term, we aim to transfer technology to medium-sized companies.