A new development in laser mapping has created the first ever 3D interior map of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Known as Zebedee, the mapping tech was designed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), which is the national science agency of Australia. The laser mapping system allows for millions of detailed measurements to be taken as the user walks through the building, in this case the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. What may have taken weeks can now be completed in hours, and in a more accurate way then ever before.
While the tower’s cramped stairs and complex architecture have prevented previous mapping technologies from capturing its interior, Zebedee has enabled the researchers to finally create the first comprehensive 3D map of the entire building.
“This technology is ideal for cultural heritage mapping, which is usually very time consuming and labour intensive. It can often take a whole research team a number of days or weeks to map a site with the accuracy and detail of what we can produce in a few hours,” said Dr Jonathan Roberts, Research Program Leader at CSIRO’s Computational Informatics Division.
“Within 20 minutes we were able to use Zebedee to complete an entire scan of the building’s interior. This allowed us to create a uniquely comprehensive and accurate 3D map of the tower’s structure and composition, including small details in the stairs and stonework.”
“Our detailed record of the Leaning Tower of Pisa may one day be critical in being able to reconstruct the site if it was to suffer catastrophic damage due to natural disasters such as a fire or an earthquake. Having a detailed 3D model of the world’s most significant cultural heritage sites could also be used to allow people who cannot physically visit these sites to better understand and appreciate their history and architecture,” said Franco Tecchia, Assistant Professor at the PERCRO – Perceptual Robotics lab.
In 2012, CSIRO through its Digital Productivity and Services Flagship worked with 3D Laser Mapping, a global developer of laser scanning solutions to commercialize the Zebedee research into the ZEB1 product. As well as its applications in cultural heritage, ZEB1 is also being used to increase efficiency and improve productivity in a number of different industries. For example, the technology is already assisting mining companies to better manage their operations and helping security forces to quickly scan crime scenes.
While laser mapping the monuments of the past, it’s interesting to note how much we can learn for the future. With the rate technology keeps moving forward, accomplishments like the first 3D laser mapping of the Tower of Pisa will be but stepping stones to a new era of historical documentation and restoration, among other many potential applications.