Engineers from the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University (APL, Laurel, MD, USA) have developed a portable mapping system carried in a backpack that can automatically create annotated physical maps of locations such as underground areas and ships.
Produced for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA; Fort Belvoir, VA, USA), the so-called Enhanced Mapping and Positioning System (EMAPS) captures a floor-plan-style map of the area traversed, as well as 360-degree photos and sensor readings of that area.
The basic EMAPS unit is an approximately six-inch cube that weighs less than four pounds, and includes a laser scanner that measures the distances to walls and features in the environment.
EMAPS has been designed mainly to detect and map environmental threats. Software on the system associates critical environmental data, such as radiation or radio frequency signal levels, with map locations.
EMAPS has already collected more than 100 hours of mapping data from a range of environments, including ships, underground storage facilities, army training areas, and buildings such as the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.
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-- Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design