Uses and Advantages of Total Station in Surveying

A total station can be used in a variety of ways during a survey. They are (these days) capable of:

  • Measuring distances, including both vertical and horizontal azimuths, to record a 3d point in space
  • Measuring angles only, when distance is too great to measure
  • They can store data internally to download later (no need to physically write down each measurement
  • Can also be used manually (writing down the output)
  • Most also include calculation routines, to be able to compute lines, curves, intersection points, etc

These days, a lot of total stations have gone one step further, and are what can be called ‘robotic’, which means they use a radio to communicate with a controller not immediately behind them, this allows for one person operation, as the total station will track a target and doesn’t need an operator behind it to aim. Some are also capable of operating in a mode similar to a 3d scanner.

Uses of Total Station in Surveying

The benefits of a total station:

  • much quicker to do a survey compared to manually writing down azimuth, distance, vertical angle, etc, and doing calculations later
  • Can be used indoors, down mines, etc (not reliant on satellites such as GPS and GLONASS systems)


  • Line of sight is required… if you cannot physically see your target from the total station, you cannot measure it.


More Uses of Total Station in Surveying :

  • The total station instrument is mounted on a tripod and is levelled by operating levelling screws. Within a small range instrument is capable of adjusting itself to the level position. Then vertical and horizontal reference directions are indexed using onboard keys. It is possible to set required units for distance, temperature and pressure (FPS or SI). Surveyor can select measurement mode like fine, coarse, single or repeated.
  • When target is sighted, horizontal and vertical angles as well as sloping distances are measured and by pressing appropriate keys they are recorded along with point number. Heights of instrument and targets can be keyed in after measuring them with tapes. Then processor computes various information about the point and displays on screen.
  • This information is also stored in the electronic notebook. At the end of the day or whenever electronic note book is full, the information stored is downloaded to computers.
  • The point data downloaded to the computer can be used for further processing. There are software like auto civil and auto plotter clubbed with AutoCad which can be used for plotting contours at any specified interval and for plotting cross-section along any specified line.

Thank you.

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