A group of researchers at UC Berkeley have grabbed the headlines by developing a portable, laser backpack for 3D mapping. The backpack merges sensor information from a number of lightweight Hokuyo laser scanners, cameras and inertial measurement units to generate photo-realistic 3D models of indoor environments.
Unlike previous systems that relied on being mounted on more stable platforms like carts or robots, or required data collection to take place in a stop and go fashion, the new system's data acquisition is fast enough to collect data with the human operator walking around.
Funded by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the US Army Research Office, the project's primary focus was to achieve military goals like mission planning. However, the lead researchers predict that eventually most human environments, outdoor and indoor, will be mapped using 3D mapping technology.
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