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Honoring the Life of Photogrammetry Professional Prof. Friedrich Ackermann

Prof. Ackermann was a pioneering scientist, mentor, colleague and founder of Inpho software

Today we honor the life and work of scientist and digital photogrammetry pioneer Prof. Dr. Dr.hc.mult. Friedrich (Fritz) Ackermann, who passed away on Dec. 4 at the age of 92, in Stuttgart, Germany.  

Prof. Ackermann was a significant figure in academia and business, including founding Inpho, a pioneering photogrammetry software company, in 1980, bringing it to the market around the same time Charlie Trimble brought Loran-C to the commercial navigation world. Trimble acquired Inpho in 2007.

Prof. Friedrich Ackermann

“We, the Inpho team, are proud to have had this special character close to us in Stuttgart,” said Dr. Mohsen Miri, Product Manager of Inpho at Trimble Photogrammetry.  “He was not only a professional in the history of photogrammetry with his decisive innovations and supervision of revolutionary ideas in the imagery market, but also a strong and humble character in his life.”

Prof. Ackermann was recognized in 2019 on the occasion of his 90th birthday with this article in Point Of Beginning (POB) magazine, which describes his achievements and contributions in defining and advancing the fields of photogrammetry and image analysis:  “Prof. Ackermann’s work is the foundation for significant increases in accuracy and efficiency in photogrammetry. His name is rightfully included as one of the legendary contributors in modeling and estimation: Gauss, Mikhail, Ackermann and Kalman.”

Eager to integrate the potential of new technologies into photogrammetric processes, Prof. 

Ackermann recognized the value of satellite positioning, according to the POB article. “He increased the profitability of photogrammetry by using GNSS-aided aerotriangulation to substantially reduce field control and processing time,” it said. “His research also included projects to incorporate aerial LiDAR data as well as numerous advances in bundle and block adjustments. He supported the work for development and sharing of digital terrain models, including the first national-scale terrain models. Prof. Ackermann also pioneered processes for using photogrammetry data in automated terrain.”

Known to his associates simply as “Fritz,” his passion for innovation was combined with kindness and respect for those around him, the article states. “He was valued for his ability to convince, motivate and inspire.”

“He never gave up updating himself about the recent technologies,” Miri said, describing Prof.  Ackermann as a “multi-dimensional man.” “I am still impressed with his active presence at the age of 90, in his last attendance at Photogrammetry Week (PhoWo 2019, Stuttgart), sitting in the front row of the hall, and listening carefully to the latest presentations from around the world.”

Dr. Mohsen Miri with Prof. Friedrich Ackermann