Laser backpack measures interiors

Sept. 8, 2010 at 7:53 PM

BERKELEY, Calif., Sept. 8 (UPI) -- A portable laser backpack than can produce fast, automatic and realistic 3-D mapping of difficult interior environments has been developed, officials say.

The reconnoitering backpack was developed at the University of California, Berkeley, and funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Army Research Office, an Air Force release said Tuesday.

The backpack is the first system designed to work without having to be strapped to a robot or attached to a rolling cart.

Its data acquisition speed is very fast, collecting data in real time while the human operator is walking, in contrast to existing systems in which the data is collected in a stop-and-go fashion, resulting in days and weeks of data acquisition time, the Air Force said.

The technology will allow military personnel to collectively view the interior of modeled buildings and interact over a network in order to achieve military goals like mission planning, researchers said.

The cutting-edge technology has been successfully tested on the university campus.

"We have already generated 3-D models of two stories of the electrical engineering building at UC Berkeley, including the stairway, and that is a first," Avideh Zakhor, lead researcher and professor of electrical engineering, said.

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