3D mapping drone fires lasers from a mile away (video)

by Vladislav Savov @ Engadget posted Nov 18th 2009 at 6:40AM

The MIT Technology Review has unearthed a new laser-based 3D mapping robot that can produce results similar to those obtained from $100,000 systems at about a fifth of the cost. Funded by the US Army, researchers at the Stevens Institute of Technology have now demonstrated the Remotely Operated and Autonomous Mapping System (ROAMS, for short), which employs a mirror-based LIDAR system that bounces a laser off a rapidly rotating mirror and gleans environmental information from how long it takes for each pulse to bounce back. An array of video cameras and IR proximity sensors add to this recon bot‘s sentience, though you’ll still need to be within a mile’s range to operate it. So not quite yet ready for solo missions to Mars, but plenty useful for gathering data on our own planet. You’ll find video and imagery of the results this machine kicks out after the break.