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3D Laser Mapping arms robots with laser vision

Written by Radar Systems 12 June 2008.

3D Laser Mapping is helping pioneer research into intelligent field mapping robots. The UK firm’s laser scanning technology can create highly detailed 3D visualisations of the surroundings so that robots can make intelligent decisions in virtual real time. As a result of a partnership with Reutech Radar Systems, 3D Laser Mapping has supplied the advanced laser scanning system to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa, one of the world’s leading research, development and implementation organisations. The system will assist the CSIR with research into intelligent field robotics for studies relating to perception, mobility and navigation.

“The laser scanning system will be used to create 3D models of an environment,” said Dr Ajith Gopal, who heads up mobile intelligent autonomous systems research. “By applying advanced stereovision algorithms to these models the robotic platform can effectively make decisions in virtual real time. This is an exciting area of research with potential applications in emergency search and rescue, earth observation and exploration and the development of fully autonomous vehicles.”

The Mobile Intelligent Autonomous Systems (MIAS) research area is part of the Modelling and Digital Science unit of the CSIR. Dedicated to research relevant to intelligent field robotics, such as perception, reasoning, teleoperation, reality augmentation, mobility and navigation, this research domain focuses on the ability to position an object in 3D space through the real time mapping of the immediate environment and then interacting with the environment to perform some useful task.

The laser scanning system, purchased from and supported by 3D Laser Mapping’s distributor in Southern Africa, Reutech Radar Systems, includes an LMS-Z390i laser scanner. Providing an unrivalled combination of wide field of view, accuracy of measurements and speed of data capture the scanning unit is specifically designed for the rapid acquisition of high quality three-dimensional images. The 3D Laser Mapping system also comprised data processing software and an integrated high definition digital camera.

“This specific system was chosen as it provided the right combination of accuracy, range, speed and of course cost for our applications,” continued Dr Gopal. “It is a well integrated system that is very easy to use and seamlessly ‘plugs and plays’ into the Microsoft Windows environment.”

“Laser scanners are historically utilised in the industrial and mining industries. This venture confirms that the superior performance of the product allows it to be applied in a broader field of application”, says James Verster, CEO of Reutech Radar Systems.

3D Laser Mapping is a specialist in laser scanning solutions, the Riegl Premier Distributor for the UK, Ireland and sub-Saharan Africa and the leading distributor of TerraScan software. 3D Laser Mapping integrates laser scanner hardware systems with their own software and peripherals to create robust solutions for sectors such as mapping, mining and manufacturing.

Reutech Radar Systems is a world leader in radar technology with the latest generation systems for surveillance, monitoring and surveying. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Reunert Limited.