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— Science

UAVs could map the bottom of the sea, using new lidar tech

When an organization sets out to map the sea floor, it will typically use a device known as a bathymetric lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) unit. These are large and can weigh almost 600 lb (272 kg), so they're mounted on crewed aircraft that fly over the area to be mapped. Led by Dr. Grady Tuell, a team at Georgia Tech has now developed a cost-effective new system that they claim could lead to much smaller, more efficient bathymetric lidars, capable of being carried by a UAV. Read More
— Science

NIST's new laser technology allows high-definition 3D mapping at a distance

Using an enhanced LADAR (Laser Detection And Ranging) system, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have created a long-range, laser-based imaging device that can generate high-definition 3D maps of objects at distances of up to 10.5 m (35 ft). The technology could find applications in precision machining and assembly, as well as in forensics where it could map evidence non-destructively. Read More
— Space

NASA probe will reveal 3D architecture of forests from space

NASA is developing a laser-based instrument for deployment on the International Space Station that will probe the depths of Earth's forests from space in a bid to reveal more about their role in the planet's carbon cycle. After its completion in 2018, this Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) lidar will join the likes of the Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite in studying Earth's vegetation on a global scale. Read More
— Military

Lockheed Martin WindTracer system to improve airdrop accuracy

For a besieged soldier or a disaster victim, a plane dropping supplies is the most welcome sight in the world – unless the drop ends up drifting off out of reach. To help make sure that airdrops end up where they belong, the US Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to adapt its WindTracer wind measurement system for a Precision Air Drop system to help aircrews land supplies faster and on target. Read More
— Science

Laser tech allows for longer-distance sensing

The trouble with existing 3D imaging technology is that – at the consumer level, at least – it tends to struggle with distances beyond a few feet. Put even a third of the width of a basketball court between yourself and a Microsoft Kinect sensor, for instance, and it won't pick up your movements at all. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, claim to have developed a Lidar (light radar)-based system that can remotely sense objects across distances as long as 30 feet (10 m), which could have widespread benefits in fields as diverse as entertainment, transportation, robotics, and mobile phones. Read More
— Robotics

X-Motion system puts autonomous vehicles on the warehouse floor

As we continue to see progress made in autonomous driving technology, much of the public's interest has been preoccupied with the prospect of autonomous vehicles hitting the road. Yet six vehicles currently zipping autonomously around a Samsung warehouse in Russia's Kaluga region after being fitted with the "X-MOTION" system show that this technology will also find plenty of applications off the road. Read More
— Digital Cameras

Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night stays MIT's new TOF camera

MIT researchers have developed a new time-of-flight (TOF) 3D "nano-camera" with the ability to work with translucent objects, motion, fog, rain, and other factors in the environment that totally confuse previous TOF cameras, such as Microsoft's second-gen Kinect. The MIT Media Lab team has added these new capabilities by introducing additional information into the illuminating light beam. The resulting camera costs less than US$500 in parts. Read More
— Electronics

Tower of Pisa 3D-scanned in 20 mins with spring-mounted Zebedee

Researchers at Australia's national science agency, the CSIRO, have developed Zebedee, a spring-mounted 3D laser scanner and mapper capable of scanning complicated interiors in double-quick time. The researchers were able to scan the "cramped and complex" interior of the Leaning Tower of Pisa which, the CSIRO claims, has not been possible with previous 3D scanning technology. But more significantly, the researchers were able to complete the scan in under 20 minutes. Read More