Funded by the US Air Force, a new portable backpack laser system has been developed for mapping interior environments and also for being AWESOME.
We’ll state right up front that the thing bears little resemblance to the slick units used in “Ghostbusters” or anything that a Star Wars fanboy or Star Trek fangirl dreamed up.
It’s ugly and misshapen – almost aggressively so – but the scientists at the University of California, Berkeley weren’t exactly going for looks.
Instead, they were going for an improvement in current laser mapping techniques, which right now can take anywhere from a few day up to a week or more, especially for an interior space with a great deal of surface variations, nooks, crannies, and things you should really have put away before your mom came over.
This laser backpack is the first of its kind to operate without being lashed to a robot like some kind of hideous eye or melded to a cart like a technological graft, making it a revolution in human use, if not fashion sense.
The way the data is collected has also been vastly improved over other previous laser mapping iterations. Whereas predecessors to the laser backpack – the laser sombrero and laser jockstrap (ok, so not really) – collected data in a stop and go fashion, leading to the aforementioned long wait times prior to complete mapping, the backpack is able to collect data on the fly while the wearer is walking around a room.
Laser Backpack: It's sooo light!
In addition to the laser, U of C scientists have also developed a method for producing photo-realistic, 3D renderings of the rooms they scan, a boon for furniture bargain hunters everywhere.
Realistically, the intention is for the Air Force to use the technology to plan military operations by viewing the interiors of modeled buildings and determining attack strategies.
The trick, of course, lies in getting the laser backpack-wearing operative into the house in the first place.
“Have you heard the Good News? Perhaps we could chat about the Lord as we wander through every room in the house.”
Doesn’t seem suspicious at all.
Still, the laser backpack is a step in the light direction.
Source: Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Photo Credit: John Kua, University of California, Berkeley