Mobile Laser Scanning (MLS) systems are widely applied for spatial data collection and support applications in many aspects. In recent years, MLS technology had been introduced to railway applications and greatly enhanced the spatial detail and efficiency when compared to traditional approaches. However, the advance of MLS technology is not completely applied to railway environment. Typical MLS systems rely on integrated navigation through the use of Inertial Navigation Systems (INS) and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) for geo-referencing, while operation under long-term GNSS outages or even GNSS-free environments, such as underground railway or long tunnels, remains a challenging issue due to the degraded operation of standalone inertial navigation. Commercial MLS systems usually employ high performance inertial measurement units (IMU) and various strategies to manage GNSS outages, but GNSS components are still necessary prior to and after experiencing the loss of GNSS signals. To tackle the problem of permanent GNSS outages, alternative methods are introduced to replace the GNSS and so allow the use of MLS systems in GNSS-free underground railway environments. Such approaches encourage the MLS systems to be developed into the Underground Railway Laser Scanning (URLS) systems, which may provide several alternative operational functions for the management of underground railway operation.
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