One of the most frequent questions we received after the release of the Subscription Advantage Pack for Civil 3D 2010 revolved around Point Clouds. Mainly “can we create a surface from this data” Unfortunately this functionality wasn’t possible at this time, but rest assured, this is something that is easily achieved in the 2011 release.
When creating surfaces from point cloud data, you need to keep in mind that some of this data contains points that would be undesirable to use in surface creation. Points that show objects such as guard rails, vehicles, trees, buildings, etc. For my example I will be using the .LAS file included with the tutorial drawings that ship with Civil 3D. Setting the point cloud style to LIDAR Point Classification will allow me to select just the ground data which will create an accurate surface.
Now that you have the points displayed need to create a correct surface model, you can now add the points to a new or existing surface. Select the Point Cloud, and you will notice that the contextual ribbon will display for this specific object. Select the Add Points to Surface option, which will launch a dialog to create your point cloud surface.
In this dialog you will be able to specify whether to add these points to an existing surface, create a new surface, select surface style, and also be able to specify which region of the point cloud you want to create your surface from. There are four options to choose from Point Cloud Extents, Window, Window Polygon, and Object. Depending on your task you will choose the appropriate selection. For this example we will try Window, which operates just like a selection window. Select a portion of the point cloud, click Finish in the dialog, and there you have a Civil 3D surface. Although this is a simplified, and straight-to-the-point example of surface creation, there are many more options and features to this functionality that I am sure you will find very helpful when working with Point Clouds.