Suck It, Street View, Navteq Maps the World in 3D... With Lasers

Illustration for article titled Suck It, Street View, Navteq Maps the World in 3D... With Lasers

Google's Street View team famously photographs all kinds of weird stuff as they drive the world, but Navteq, who basically invented this stuff, just built a mount with seven cameras and 64 lasers to see everything better, in 3D.

Advertisement

Mounted atop a VW Jetta wagon is this crazy apparatus with a 12-megapixel panoramic camera on top and six more cameras pointed in specific directions to pick up signs and other data points. But the best gadgetry—the laser array—is housed inside a rapidly spinning barrel positioned at an angle. By using LIDAR, basically radar but with lasers, they scan everything within view, capturing 1.2 million points of data every second. The result is all kinds of terrain data that is not possible using just cameras.

Illustration for article titled Suck It, Street View, Navteq Maps the World in 3D... With Lasers

The goal is "high accuracy maps," a deliberately vague notion that ranges from additional information—bridge underpass clearance heights, multilayer cloverleaf navigation and other obvious issues—to super rich 3D environments like the ones you see below. Those aren't CG renderings, in the traditional sense, it's laser-enriched photography.

Illustration for article titled Suck It, Street View, Navteq Maps the World in 3D... With Lasers

Navteq, a Chicago company owned by Nokia who has been driving around making maps since the first GPS satellites were hurled into orbit, still provides a massive share of map data for web and devices, so the fruits of this tech might get to you sooner than you know.

As for your own personal rig, I sure want one, and my guess is that Google wants one too—if they don't have it already. [Navteq]

Advertisement

DISCUSSION

The5thElephant
The5thElephant

An issue just occurred to me, can someone copyright the 3D data of a building or location that they own?

I'm assuming not so much if it is a publicly viewable space, but I imagine places like military bases and other government locations will be banned from being scanned by the eventual ubiquitous air-based and ground-based LIDAR systems we will see in the future.

But how can the military block some amateur with a cheap future LIDAR system from scanning the base? What is the effective range versus resolution of one of these systems? Anyone know?