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Earth Input Devices The Military Technology

A Portable Laser Backpack For 3D Mapping 66

Posted by timothy
from the overkill-for-osm dept.
wooferhound writes "A portable laser backpack for 3D mapping has been developed at the University of California, Berkeley, where it is being hailed as a breakthrough technology capable of producing fast, automatic and realistic 3D mapping of difficult interior environments. ... The backpack is the first of a series of similar systems to work without being strapped to a robot or attached to a cart. At the same time, its data acquisition speed is very fast, as it collects the data while the human operator is walking; this is in contrast with existing systems in which the data is painstakingly collected in a stop-and-go fashion, resulting in days and weeks of data acquisition time. It utilizes novel sensor fusion algorithms that use cameras, lasers range finders and inertial measurement units to generate a textured, photo-realistic, 3D model that can operate without GPS input and that is a big challenge."
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A Portable Laser Backpack For 3D Mapping

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  • Do want!!!! Every home should have one!

  • by Type44Q (1233630)

    The backpack is the first of a series of similar systems to work without being strapped to a robot or attached to a cart.

    Nope; it apparently has to be strapped to a human (a slave, no doubt). Definitely an improvement, efficiency-wise. :P

    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

      by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @02:52AM (#33618116) Homepage Journal

      The backpack is the first of a series of similar systems to work without being strapped to a robot or attached to a cart.

      Nope; it apparently has to be strapped to a human (a slave, no doubt). Definitely an improvement, efficiency-wise. :P

      Or a student...

      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        The backpack is the first of a series of similar systems to work without being strapped to a robot or attached to a cart.

        Nope; it apparently has to be strapped to a human (a slave, no doubt). Definitely an improvement, efficiency-wise. :P

        Or a student...

        Or a rat...

      • by Khyber (864651)

        It'd have to be a student. Only students are used to carrying such insanely large loads on their backs.

        It's a wonder I never developed a compacted spinal column due to the regular 50 pounds of books I'd carry in my backpack, every single day, and was able to grow to a happy six feet tall.

        • by skids (119237)

          Actually it's more that only students are capable of navigating around furniture, closed doors, and janitors for $8/hour.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I went through that crap from junior high through freshman high school, at which point they kicked me out and sent me to another school which was a little less structured. I'm 6'7".

      • by skids (119237)

        You joke, but In fact I routinely strap a large laptop setup to students and send them through the
        dorms during the summer doing a WiFi/frequency interference survey.

        They'd have a lot less back strain if we got a newer model, I suppose, but what I'd really like to see is
        for the WiFi survey equipment vendors to implement dead reckoning using the readily available
        MEMs accelerometer/magnetometer gear that is just a notch above what you might find in a PS3 Sixaxis
        controller. Right now, they have to shuffle arou

  • Aww, Heck! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Rollgunner (630808)
    When I read the title, I thought the last word was "Zapping"
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can imagine this being quite useful for cavers (also known as spelunkers) by allowing them to model large caverns quickly to look for exits.

    Or, alternately, if it works in the dark because it's lasers, you could use it as an alternative to night vision.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ostracus (1354233)

      I can imagine this being quite useful for cavers (also known as spelunkers) by allowing them to model large caverns quickly to look for exits.

      Or, alternately, if it works in the dark because it's lasers, you could use it as an alternative to night vision.

      Actually what came to mind was the mapping of building interiors for the purpose of historic preservation...or games. :)

      • That reminds me of when I was in college.....the way I got through my algorithms class, and kept myself focused, was by trying to think about how every algorithm could be used in a game. I never ended up being a game programmer, but now I appreciate algorithms for there own sake. Thinking in terms of games gave me that extra bit of motivation to get through to where I could see the beauty and goodness of it.
      • Exactly what I was thinking too. I work in a building that has a highly irregular layout. No two floors are the same. It was hard enough to model in Sketchup, and I don't even want to think about doing the interior the same way.

        But for about 10 years now I've though that it would be perfect for a Quake II map. Now I think it would be good for a Left 4 Dead map, but yeah, I've got to get me one of those backpacks.

    • Re:Cavers (Score:4, Insightful)

      by miketheanimal (914328) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @03:41AM (#33618248)
      I'm a caver. It would last about 30 seconds in most cave environments. It wouldn't even fit in the cave I explore most.
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That's what she said!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by beej (82035)

      Speaking as someone who actually does cave survey, I dream of devices like this, I tell you.

      You guys might be amused to learn that one of the most powerful pieces of cave survey tech we currently use is a custom-built device called the Shetland Attack Pony, but it has nothing on this backpack thing.

  • I don't think PETA will be happy about people attaching backpack straps and a hip belt to sharks.
  • But the resulting 3D model is a big challenge, so only the brightest of geniuses can make use of it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Scorpinox (479613)

      Every year more and more companies are releasing algorithms that are getting better at automatically turning that data into simple 3d models. As someone who reduces this "raw" point cloud data by hand, these new methods are both a blessing and a curse in terms of ease of use/job security.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Yetihehe (971185)
        If your job can be replaced with a computer program, you should not be doing it, or you will be known as The Indexer [thedailywtf.com].
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Scorpinox (479613)

          Yes, I'm painfully aware of this. Lucky for me, there is still a lot of QA/QC work to be done to make sure that the program worked correctly and the model isn't screwed up.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Yetihehe (971185)
            So in this case those programs are just tools which make your job easier. Congratulations, you still have job security and not mindless work. In many other fields this is the same. People who did mindless work, now can do other tasks which are probably more gratifying and use their intellect more.
  • We are right on schedule, heading in to tech level 8.

  • by Scorpinox (479613) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @03:57AM (#33618282)

    This thing is very very cool. Though we do have faster ways already than "painstakingly collecting in a stop and go fashion". I've worked with lasers attached to low-flying aircraft and also attached to a truck that can drive about 40 miles an hour. Two passes with the truck is just as good as this backpacks data. We primarily mount tracks on the truck and drive it on railroad tracks to collect data for upcoming rail projects. You can check out the technology at www.ambercore.com/titan.php

    • by Scorpinox (479613)

      Just to add to my previous comment, working without gps is actually a bad thing for surveying work. For surveying work for the government/engineering firms, you need to show the model in state plane coordinates. Have you ever seen those little medal medallions on the sidewalk? Those are set by land surveyers who placed them with a very accurate GPS data to later come back and use for land size disputes, future engineering work, etc. It's what helps the electric company, the building contracters, the dra

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nospam007 (722110) *

      Trucks and planes are not very useful in prehistoric caves.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Scorpinox (479613)

        Hence why I said that this is very cool :) I can think of more than a few instances where this backpack would come in handy. Unfortunately, noone is really dumping a lot of money into mapping caves, since there isn't anyone about to start constructing inside them. Right now the majority of the laser scan work I've done is for buildings where the original schematics are lost, or painfully out of date. I did once scan a rockslide so that someone could analyze what went wrong after the fact, but even that w

  • It's called lidar... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Obfuscant (592200) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @05:04AM (#33618448)
    and it is nothing new. it's been flown in planes (by the USGS to map the coastline of the US), attached to vehicles of all kinds. Yes, the easiest data collection system is one where the lidar is motionless (except the scanning head, of course) so system motion doesn't have to be backed out of the data, but we've been putting lidar on so many platforms that it is nothing really new to put it in a backpack.

    It's like the difference between a 1Gb thumb drive and a 2Gb one. Same technology, smaller package. Advances in MEMS sensors for acceleration and position make knowing the position of the lidar base much easier and more accurate. This "advance" is really nothing that anyone knowlegable in the art couldn't predict or produce.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Actually, the issues of indoor 3D mapping are significantly more challenging than doing so from a plane or ground vehicle outdoors.

      Advances in MEMS sensors for acceleration and position make knowing the position of the lidar base much easier and more accurate.

      Inertial sensors arn't a panacea, especially the MEMs-based ones. MEMs-based inertial sensors are MUCH less accurate than the systems used in survey equipment. Even the best high-end MEMs inertial systems are quite noisy, and while top-of-the-line optical (not MEMs) gyros can be extremely accurate and give you orientation with very low drift over time, the basic premise of an

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @05:40AM (#33618560)

    Since it sounds like it is able to scan a room with a laser and detect the reflections I'd like to see a version that can detect cameras and blind them automatically.

    Something like a combination of their system and the spyfinder. [72.52.208.92]

    False positives would be no big deal if you've got enough laser sources - its not going to hurt to "blind" a false positive reflection.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Beezlebub33 (1220368)

      False positives would be no big deal if you've got enough laser sources - its not going to hurt to "blind" a false positive reflection.

      Unless it's my eye!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    More information here [berkeley.edu]

  • Sounds like a great device, but the summary left out this very important piece of information: is it waterproof?

    - asks an interested shark

  • that thing sure looks portable
  • So if you type in "IDDT", will it show you the entire map including secret areas?

  • The game is over Mr. Escher... [urbangeko.com]
  • This is an interesting idea. However, it is already being subsumed by 3D cameras, more commonly known as depth cameras (a la Microsoft's Kinect) [hizook.com], that produce dense 3D pointclouds and color images at framerate. The best example is work by Dieter Fox (et. al.) from University of Washington and Intel Labs Seattle that uses a depth camera to do (near) real-time 3D mapping of indoor scenes -- sort of like a Google Streetview indoors [hizook.com]. The benefits of depth camera solutions are multi-fold: much lower cost as s
  • Should we call for airstrike?
  • It would be useful in mapping crime scenes. What happens, though, if you are outdoors; say a traffic accident with lots of vehicles?

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