In an article dated Sept. 15th, Tech Space article reported that  a Portable Laser Scanner Backpack has been developed by the University of California, Berkeley, under a program funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Army Research Office.

image  This Backpack is the initial model in a line of units capable of continuous data collection while the user walks. Not having to stop is a substantial time savings. This technology will quickly become part of the Architectural and Industrial renovation industry.

One large concern that must be overcome is the absolute current position of each measurement in relation to the entire data set.  A continuously moving scanner creates a monumental problem. The research team has developed a complex method to compensate the moving issue by evaluating the position of the backpack and the data continuously through sensor fusion algorithms that use cameras, lasers range finders and inertial measurement units that can operate without GPS.

No GPS is quite important since the system is also intended to be operated indoors. They reported that they have already modeled 2 floors of the Electrical Engineering Building, including the stairwell. What was not said was how many portions of the overall data set had to be assembled manually.

Personally i am interested in the development of the inertial navigation system, which reminds me of some aircraft system’s positional awareness. Being able to record data along a path, and the dataset is built accurately in real time without manual adaptation is phenomenal. Imagine doing a walking tour of a facility, and walk out with a 3D representation of everything you encountered, or walking down the street of an urban renovation project.  This mobile scanning system is still an infant technology, and many questions still remain unanswered. What seems most important are how far they have brought the technology to date, and how it will impact the growing demand for point cloud data sets in the next 5 years