Aug 8

Brady Forrest

Brady Forrest

ASC: Using LADAR Captured Images To Create 3D Model

Advanced Scientific Concepts makes a LADAR (Laser Detection and Ranging) camera that captures enough data in a single shot to make a 3D model. The resulting model can be spun around and can be used to make measurements (as is done in the video above). I saw examples of images taken in smoke and fog; it was amazing how much detail their cameras were able to capture.

Advanced Scientific Concepts is a 14 person startup outside of Santa Barbara, CA. Their cameras sell for several hundred thousand dollars. The hardware (there's a picture of the cameras after the jump) is used by many major branches of the government -- especially the military.

Their ability to capture this much detail in a single shot is pretty incredible -- one of the most impressive pieces of technology I saw at Sc-Foo this past weekend. The results remind me of Everyscape (Radar post), the soon-to-be-launched geo startup that is creating a 3D mapping portal out of 2D shots. The difference between their technologies is that Everyscape's portal can be built using a mid-priced digital camera. This won't democratize the capture of geo data like Everyscape may, but it has the potential to help a larger company get data faster.

ASC's cameras:

acs cameras

tags: emerging tech, videos, web 2.0  | comments: 8   | Sphere It

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Comments: 8

  Stephan [08.08.07 02:05 AM]

Sorry, Brady, small typo, but it's in the title: it's LIDAR, not LADAR. You might also be interested in what happens SLAM research (Simultaneous localization and mapping, ).

SLAM as an idea is not bound to a sensor, you can use just an optical camera to obtain a 3D model as well, see e.g. Andrew Davison's work: or David Nister's work:

  Chris Wong [08.08.07 03:20 AM]

Interesting find, I won't be surprised if google is going to acquire this technology on google map. I remembered the days when I had to rig the lines of my modesl in 3d studio max and honestly it has been painful. With this tool, provided the textures come with the model, I would say the modeling process would be speed up at least 10 times than doing all the models and textures manually. Imagine if this tool is being implemented on google map, it'll be really something to look into.

  Anon [08.08.07 03:35 AM]

Photosketch by G Wolberg out of NY creates a comparable result but with everyday digital cameras. The geometry cloud data resolution may not be to the same decimal point, but the general user will find the resulting 3D content more then of passing interest.

  Jonathan Blocksom [08.08.07 06:05 AM]

ASC did a tech talk at Google last year:

It's been a long time since I watched it but I seem to recall the demo wasn't as smooth as I'd hope for a system that's ready to deploy. I'm not convinced it's actually in real use anywhere (unlike SICK or Regal LIDAR sensors), but it's interesting technology.

  Andrew Pass [08.08.07 08:33 AM]

This stuff is incredible. I can already envision the difference that this technology will make in educational institutions when it becomes easy enough to do with inexpensive digital cameras. How long do you think this might be?

  brady [08.08.07 08:59 AM]

@Stephan: They specifically use the term LADAR, not LIDAR.

From the wikipedia entry i link to in the post:

* LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is an optical remote sensing technology that measures properties of scattered light to find range and/or other information of a distant target.

* The acronym LADAR (Laser Detection and Ranging) is often used in military context.

And it's how they reference the system on their FAQ (

Q. What is the advantage of the small size and low weight of the 3_D flash ladar camera?

A. ASC’s 3-D Flash Ladar camera has the
approximate form factor of a typical 2-D digital camera. Typically these cameras can therefore be used on lightweight platforms such as small UAVs.

  Fred Smith [05.23.08 07:51 AM]

Although the technology is the same, the term LIDAR is generally used to describe laser based atmospheric sensing systems. While LADAR is generally used to describe laser systems used to measure the image (reflected intensity and or range image) of a solid object.

  Luc Van Gool [06.26.08 01:08 PM]

The ARC3D webservice from the Un. of Leuven automatically turns digital photos into dense 3D as well (info at The service is free for non-commercial use.

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