A new software for a robot with a laser sensor can lead to safer and more efficient rescue missions at the time of disasters like earthquakes by entering dangerous structures and locating any remaining people.
Ye Duan, associate professor of computer science in the University of Missouri College of Engineering said: "We are developing computer graphics visualisation software to allow the user to interactively navigate the 3-D data captured from the robot's scans."
"I worked with my students to develop a computer software that helps the user to analyse the data and conduct virtual navigation, so they can have an idea of the structure before they enter it. The technology could save the lives of disaster victims and rescuers," he said.
The remote-controlled robot is designed to remotely transport a Light Detection and Ranging unit (LIDAR) so that rescuers, such as police, military, firefighters, and search and rescue teams, can know more about dangerous structures before entering.
When inside the structure, the robot takes multiple scans using LIDAR that takes up to 500,000 point measurements per second. It also can scan through walls and windows.
After the scans, the software forms the data points into sophisticated 3-D maps that can show individual objects, create floorplans and colour-code areas inside the structure for stability.
"Although the software and the robot can help in emergency situations, it could be commercialised for a variety of uses," Duan said, according to a University of Missouri release.
"The system could be used for routine structure inspections, which could help prevent tragedies. It also could allow the military to perform unmanned terrain acquisition to reduce wartime casualties," he added.
Duan's research has been published in International Journal of CAD/CAM.