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Application Note: Laser Mapping Reveals Cathedral's Architectural Details

Photonics.com
Dec 2015
NOTTINGHAM, England, Dec. 4, 2015 — Advanced laser scanning has been used to capture a detailed virtual record of the interior of Lincoln Cathedral and reveal clues to its architectural past. The digital blueprint could aid in restoration and future-proofing the 700-year-old edifice.


Existing floor plans of the monument were incomplete and more than a century old. As part of the £16 million (about $24 million) Lincoln Cathedral Connected project, Lukasz Bonenberg, senior experimental officer at Nottingham Geospatial Institute at the University of Nottingham, led the scans at the cathedral in November to build up a picture of the cathedral's architectural history.

Bonenberg used a Leica P20 laser scanner, which measures the reflectance of surfaces in its field of view to create color-coded 3D renderings of the scene. The scanner can record up to half a million individual 3D measurement points per second and can rotate 360 degrees in six minutes.

The scanner generated 300 million measurement points for the cathedral's chapter house alone. Cyclone 9.0 software was used to process the massive data load, as well as to generate detailed virtual models of the monument's interior.

The researchers also imaged the 20-m-high roof space, which has undergone three renovations in the cathedral's history.

"It would be almost impossible to use conventional methods to collect data on the same scale — something that would take weeks, if not months, took the scanner only a few hours to record," Bonenberg said. "From the computer model, we hope to eventually develop a 3D-printed model of the chapter house roof, which will help experts to answer questions about the roof's construction and how and why it has changed over the centuries without having to revisit the monument."


GLOSSARY
metrology
The science of measurement, particularly of lengths and angles.
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