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A Portable Laser Backpack For 3D Mapping

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the overkill-for-osm dept.

Earth 66

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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Ooooooo (1)

Nabeel_co (1045054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618022)

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

Re:Ooooooo (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618278)

Don't cross the streams... it would be bad.

Re:Ooooooo (-1, Troll)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618298)

Yes, so we can all blind our neighbors with the laser beam.

Given that a majority of republicans are now on record for reducing funds for care of the blind and they are about to take over the government, this might not be the best thing for UC Berkeley to have developed at this time.

Re:Ooooooo (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618362)

Way to get in an irrelevant political dig! What are you doing commenting here? I'm sure Youtube misses you.

Re:Ooooooo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33619192)

Given that a majority of republicans are now on record for reducing funds for care of the blind

Citation or a retraction please.

Re:Ooooooo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33619988)

Yes, so we can all blind our neighbors with the laser beam.

Given that a majority of republicans are now on record for reducing funds for care of the blind and they are about to take over the government, this might not be the best thing for UC Berkeley to have developed at this time.

They're just trying to save money to take care of all the poor that Obama/Pelosi/Reid's policies are creating:

Poverty stats show the damage [washingtonpost.com]

In the second year of a brutal recession, the ranks of the American poor soared to their highest level in half a century and millions more are barely avoiding falling below the poverty line, the Census Bureau reported Thursday.

About 44 million Americans - one in seven - lived last year in homes in which the income was below the poverty level, which is about $22,000 for a family of four. That is the largest number of people since the census began tracking poverty 51 years ago.

YAAAY HOPENCHANGE!!!!

SLAP!!!! - that's the sound of YOU being BITCH SLAPPED by FACTS.

Re:Ooooooo (1)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619764)

Abolutely, then we can find the secret passage way we always suspected was behind the bookcase!
Though I'm not sure totally how Anne Frank would have responded to this technology.

Huh? (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618024)

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? (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618116)

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...

Re:Huh? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618164)

You know what's cool about laser backpacks?

Having your dick sucked by a fat chick.

No, listen real quick: It could be because they know how to wolf down large sausages or because they are willing to try harder to please their men, or a combination of both. But having your dick sucked by a fat chick is the pinnacle of ecstasy.

Your butt-cheeks will tense up so tightly that you will have to pull the sheets out of your ass afterward.

And they have tongues like cows, which will make you go, "WOW!"

Re:Huh? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618290)

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...

Re:Huh? (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618702)

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.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618816)

Lucky you! I had to carry 70 pounds of books and I only made it to five ten :(

Re:Huh? (1)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620092)

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

Re:Huh? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620354)

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".

Re:Huh? (1)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620056)

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 around slowly, constantly clicking on a floor plan to tell the
gear where they went. It would be much faster if they did not have to do that.

And if the OP's system scales down to just-above-consumer-grade it might also kill the
need to load architectural drawings. So really, we could tie it to a trained goat and get a good
waste-level survey.

Re:Huh? (1)

badkarmadayaccount (1346167) | more than 3 years ago | (#33625706)

Not to mention obsoleting GPS chips if you can fit it in a phone - think topological map comparison algorithm.

Aww, Heck! (1, Funny)

Rollgunner (630808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618046)

When I read the title, I thought the last word was "Zapping"

Cavers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618056)

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:Cavers (2, Interesting)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618074)

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. :)

Re:Cavers (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618216)

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.

Re:Cavers (1)

human-cyborg (450395) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618532)

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 (3, Insightful)

miketheanimal (914328) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Cavers (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618690)

That's what she said!

Re:Cavers (2, Informative)

beej (82035) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618260)

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.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618058)

... is it waterproof?

I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618078)

How do you fit the sharks in?

This would have been great with Zork! (1)

joelsanda (619660) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618082)

eom

Not too stable... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618128)

I would have loved to work on this :(

PETA (1)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618150)

I don't think PETA will be happy about people attaching backpack straps and a hip belt to sharks.

Big Challenge (1)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618166)

But the resulting 3D model is a big challenge, so only the brightest of geniuses can make use of it.

Re:Big Challenge (2, Insightful)

Scorpinox (479613) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618296)

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:Big Challenge (2, Interesting)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618340)

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:Big Challenge (2, Interesting)

Scorpinox (479613) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618730)

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:Big Challenge (2, Insightful)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618752)

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.

4d6 damage from the rifle, 3d6 from the carbine. (2)

Lanboy (261506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618194)

We are right on schedule, heading in to tech level 8.

As Someone Who 3D Maps for a Living (4, Interesting)

Scorpinox (479613) | more than 3 years ago | (#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

Re:As Someone Who 3D Maps for a Living (1)

Scorpinox (479613) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618310)

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 drainage people, all coordinate and make sure that whatever they're doing doesn't interfere with eachother.

Re:As Someone Who 3D Maps for a Living (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618352)

It says it can work without GPS, so perhaps it's optional? No doubt there will be ways to register the recorded data.

Re:As Someone Who 3D Maps for a Living (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618922)

They don't "placed them with very accurate GPS data", they place them and THEN use GPS to determine where they are.

I mean really, the actual coordinates isn't the most important thing, having the survey nail where you want it, is.

Re:As Someone Who 3D Maps for a Living (2, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618452)

Trucks and planes are not very useful in prehistoric caves.

Re:As Someone Who 3D Maps for a Living (2, Interesting)

Scorpinox (479613) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618716)

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 was over a large highway.

Re:As Someone Who 3D Maps for a Living (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33620508)

Unfortunately, noone is really dumping a lot of money into mapping caves, since there isn't anyone about to start constructing inside them

Obviously never met a Dwarf Fortress player.

rock huggers & queers; now that's terror (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618390)

http://republicbroadcasting.org/?p=10918

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Retired NORAD Officer's New Book Predicts a Tentative Worldwide UFO Display on October 13, 2010

it would have helped with scheduling if the time was supplied; like between 1-6pm, or after the tornadoes, something.

as for unfairness, we like this reference; google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=weather+manipulation

& this one; google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=bush+cheney+wolfowitz+rumsfeld+wmd+blair+obama+weather+authors

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"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

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boeing, boeing, gone.

It's called lidar... (2, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:It's called lidar... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618594)

The miniaturization is likely what's the most remarkable, not the technology itself.

A better example would be the video cameras of a decade or two ago with our modern day handheld cameras. It was entirely predictable that it would become smaller, and because there were various types of cameras you could say it's hardly amazing that they went from bulky, two handed monstrosities [flickr.com] to our convenient, pocket sized [podcastingnews.com] camcorders, but that would be disingenuous. Making things *smaller* (or alternately, bigger for some things) is remarkable when done to an extreme.

Unless, of course, the lidars out there right now are small enough to carry by a single human and fast enough to scan at a walking pace. In which case, yes. Just more of the same.

Re:It's called lidar... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618686)

Unless, of course, the lidars out there right now are small enough to carry by a single human and fast enough to scan at a walking pace. In which case, yes. Just more of the same.

They are, and have been for quite a while.

Re:It's called lidar... (2, Interesting)

occamsarmyknife (673159) | more than 3 years ago | (#33621282)

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 accelerometer makes knowing position impossible over any length of time. Remember - you have to integrate the signal TWICE to get position, that adds up to a lot of noise. Also, I'm pretty sure from looking at their backpack that they arn't using a MEMs based IMU.

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.

When you are outdoors you have access to GPS, and that makes all the difference. It gives you the corrections needed to maintain an accurate knowledge of position over long distances and after sharp or erratic maneuvers. Additionally, when your sensors are mounted to a plane or vehicle the scan to scan motion is roughly linear, i.e. planes don't jump up and down and side to side a lot. People walking bounce all over the place, and that makes your position estimates from accelerometers alone next to useless for more than a few steps.

This "advance" is really nothing that anyone knowlegable in the art couldn't predict or produce.

There's a reason why there are lots of companies that provide high-accuracy outdoor mapping, both ground and air-based, and none that provide high-accuracy indoor mapping without requiring fixed, surveyed markers and slow, step-by-step scanning from rigidly mounted scanners. Nobody knowledgable in the art, as you say, can do it yet.

To do indoor mapping successfully you have to align each data scan with other data scans - the most common way to do this to use a SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) algorithm. While this has been well explored using planar lidar data from a rolling base in 2D, and reasonable well implemented on a rolling platform in 3D (often assuming level floors, etc...) putting it on a human means you have to solve the problem fully in 3D with noisy data and very poor odometry over long distances. This has been demonstrated (somewhat poorly) in the past on a single-floor basis, but aligning data from multiple floors or wings connected by a single long corridor is not at all a solved problem. The end result of most of these indoor approaches is a map that is topologically correct, but spatially very flawed. Without a global reference to correct your position, a long, straight, hallway may curve a little bit, a turn that should be 45 degrees might end up as 40 degrees, and those errors very quickly add up to a spatially incorrect map.

even more terror, pinko 'authors'? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618458)

http://republicbroadcasting.org/?p=10658

Retired NORAD Officer's New Book Predicts a Tentative Worldwide UFO Display on October 13, 2010

it would have helped with scheduling if the time was supplied; like between 1-6pm, or after the tornadoes, something.

as for unfairness, we like this reference; google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=weather+manipulation

& this one; google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=bush+cheney+wolfowitz+rumsfeld+wmd+blair+obama+weather+authors

if you add bolton (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618522)

everything seems to go all explosions in a hurry.

Boooring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618480)

Let me know when they have a portable laser backpack for killing aliens.

more exciting when you're the 'alien'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618582)

ALL the killing will be over soon, in conjunction with ALL of the manufactured hatred, fear & disregard for each other (from here or 'there'). thanks.

Alternate use - camera fogger? (2, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Alternate use - camera fogger? (2, Informative)

Beezlebub33 (1220368) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618888)

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!

Link to research page (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33618602)

More information here [berkeley.edu]

Great and all, but is it waterproof? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33618744)

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

- asks an interested shark

lol (1)

crazygamerz (1903228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33619082)

that thing sure looks portable

I just don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33619238)

Why are they putting the backpack on a human and not on a friggin' shark?

IDDT (1)

linebackn (131821) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620064)

So if you type in "IDDT", will it show you the entire map including secret areas?

Revolutionary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33620072)

This is interesting to be sure, but this is just another implementation of S.L.A.M. (Simultaneous Localization And Mapping) or P.T.A.M. (Parallel Tracking And Mapping). They have been used in robotics and augmented reality for a couple of years now respectively.

We've got you now! (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 3 years ago | (#33620762)

The game is over Mr. Escher... [urbangeko.com]

This could be a quantum leap for cave mappers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33620812)

I don't know about other geeks here, but I love to rockclimb and especially spelunk (explore caves).

Believe it or not, most caves are not mapped. There is a reason for this- complex surveying equipment is needed, as GPS embedded devices
usually cease to work in caves (rocks shield the signal).

I would kill to have one of these units, and I am going to scrutinize the design to see if a homebrew version could be made. If I had something I
could hike in with, I could map any cave I enter, and then use Linux's Aven cave surveying application to view them on my laptop, and add serious
data for other cavers to use, possibly saving lives in an emergency.

I nearly drowned in the last cave I was in in Japan while on study abroad, in part due to no available maps. If we had had one, we would have known
ahead of time the cave's elevation internally left a dangerous flooded worm-like passage 50m long, as big as a man, when it rains. We could have planned ahead,
and I could have explored miles deep into the cave systems in Okayama prefecture.

I can't wait to see a citizen model of this available to cavers- it would be like a revolution in caving, like the GPS was to hikers and hunters.

Already subsumed by 3D cameras (aka Depth Cameras) (1)

HizookRobotics (1722346) | more than 3 years ago | (#33621854)

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 sensors like Kinect become available, pointclouds and camera images from a single (registered) source, and better portability.

hmm... (1)

flanker711 (1121333) | more than 3 years ago | (#33625982)

Should we call for airstrike?

crime scene use (1)

virginiajim (1042226) | more than 3 years ago | (#33648958)

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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