Laser Backpack Maps Interior Spaces

Researchers at the University of California in Berkeley, working under Air Force sponsorship, have developed a portable laser backpack system capable of mapping the interiors of buildings in 3-D. This “reconnoitering backpack” is designed to enable users to quickly replicate the inside of a building virtually before entering potentially risky areas in person. It offers mission coordinators a combatant’s eye view of urban environments in near real-time. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research, together with the Army Research Office, is funding the backpack system. It is light enough to be carried easily by an individual operator and utilizes a suite of laser, optical, and inertial sensors that generates “a photo-realistic, 3-D model” that can operate without Global Positioning System navigation input, says Avideh Zakhor, the projects’ lead researcher. (AFOSR report by Maria Callier)