The Total Station & Land Surveys: A Background Story

s6 resized 600The total station was introduced in 1971 and for the first time distance and angle measurements could be recorded by one instrument. The total station is a transit integrated with an EDM, electronic distance meter, which can read slope distances from the instrument to a particular point of land. This combination gives the surveyor the capability of retrieving data related to the coordinates of the reflector in the device.

Horizontal & Vertical Angles

The total station has become an essential tool for surveyors because of how accurately it can measure both horizontal and vertical angles out in the field. Another reason why the total station is so useful for land surveyors is because of how portable the device is compared to traditional instruments that were used for hundreds of years. This modern surveying instrument can also be controlled remotely which can eliminate the requirement of extra employees and therefore minimize the cost of a survey to the consumer.

Robotic Total Station

There is a new advancement in the surveying industry with the addition of the robotic total station, which can record measurements from a long distance via remote control. The robotic total station also has a microprocessor installed which can record measurements in a memory chip and perform any necessary computations and calculations for the surveyor. The data collected and computed in the on-board microprocessor of the total station can be transferred to a computer for further work progress. AutoCAD is software that can take raw data and transfer it into a detailed base map that supports 2-D and 3-D imagery. Once this action has been performed the surveyor can now understand any contours or vectors that were not visible to the naked eye when they visited the location in person.

Miscellaneous Uses

For the most part total stations are used by civil engineering and surveying companies for retrieving intricate and detailed measurements out in the field. However this instrument can also be used by archeologists when researching a historical location to ensure the most accurate recording of information collected. Miscellaneous uses of the instrument can also be attributed to police and detective branches that need to collect a complete and accurate recording of a crime scene. Although this invention has changed a few times over the years, particularly in the size and weight, it has become revolutionary in the field of surveying for its universal functionality and overall accuracy for recording measurements.


Key Takeaways:

  • The total station was first introduced to surveyors in 1971 and has become a staple in recording detailed measurements of land.

  • The robotic total station was introduced with the capability of taking measurements from long distances by a remote control.