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3-D Laser Mapping System to Preserve Australian Heritage

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ST. LUCIA, Australia, April 16, 2013 — A mobile 3-D laser mapping system that collects detailed images of historic sites could help preserve some of Australia’s oldest and most culturally significant heritage sites.

The Zebedee laser scanner, developed by Australia’s national science agency Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), swings back and forth on a spring to capture millions of detailed measurements, giving researchers the ability to map an environment in 3-D by simply walking through it. The system uses lidar sensing technology and specially designed software that converts the raw range and inertial measurements into a 3-D map — represented as a point cloud — of the environment as well as an accurate record of the trajectory followed.

The technology is suitable for cultural heritage mapping, which is very labor intensive and time-consuming, said Dr. Jonathan Roberts, director of CSIRO’s Autonomous Systems Lab. “It can often take a whole research team a number of weeks or even months to map a site with the accuracy and detail of what we can produce in a few hours.”

The Zebedee scanner, developed by CSIRO and the University of Queensland, in use at Fort Lytton. Images courtesy of The University of Queensland.

In a joint research initiative, CSIRO and The University of Queensland aimed to collect detailed images of historic sites in Moreton Bay, an inlet on the eastern coast of Australia about 45 km from Brisbane, to help preserve Australian heritage, including the 19th century Brisbane River defenses at Fort Lytton and Peel Island’s leper colony buildings.

“Zebedee has allowed us to capture a detailed record of several key cultural heritage sites, ranging from those which are fragile and at risk of damage through natural disasters to those which are remote and difficult to get to,” said professor John Macarthur, dean and head of the School of Architecture at Queensland. “We’re looking to use these maps in the future to create an archive of rich data about cultural heritage sites, which will allow us to analyze them without costly and time-consuming hand measuring.”

Important aspects of Australian history have already been observed using the technology, the researchers say.

“The detailed map of Peel Island’s many small buildings allowed us to analyze architecture used to racially segregate people within the leper colony,” Macarthur said. “The point cloud data clearly depicts how cramped and crowded the living quarters for indigenous people were, when compared to the nonindigenous people who lived in their own huts with scenic verandas.”

The research was launched April 13 by the Honorable Andrew Powell, Queensland’s minister for environmental protection and heritage, during Australia’s National Heritage Week celebrations at Fort Lytton.

For more information, visit:
Apr 2013
An acronym of light detection and ranging, describing systems that use a light beam in place of conventional microwave beams for atmospheric monitoring, tracking and detection functions. Ladar, an acronym of laser detection and ranging, uses laser light for detection of speed, altitude, direction and range; it is often called laser radar.
3-D laser mapping systemAsia-PacificAustraliaAustralia National Heritage WeekCommonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research OrganizationCSIROcultural heritage mappingdefenseFort Lyttonheritage sitesimagingindustrialJohn MacarthurJonathan RobertsKelly GreenoplidarPeel IslandResearch & TechnologyThe University of Queenslandlasers

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