SBIR Phase II: Autonomous 3D Scanner for Building Interiors and Exteriors

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

$670K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Scientific Imaging and Visualization, LLC
1996 Wellesley Trace
Atlanta, GA 30338
Principal Investigator, Firm POC

Abstract

This SBIR Phase II project will result in a system that can scan building interiors and exteriors and construct corresponding detailed, photo-realistic 3D models. Having such models is useful in a number of applications. However, the existing approaches for the construction of such models are labor intensive and require highly trained people and expensive equipment, which make the entire process prohibitively expensive for most applications. The proposed system will significantly reduce the cost of construction of such models by using only video input and automating most of the process. The proposed system could be used to relatively inexpensively construct detailed, photo-realistic 3D models of interiors and exteriors of: real estate properties, restaurants, sport clubs, museums, historic buildings, architectural sites, touristic sites, university campuses, amusement parks, water parks, zoos, apartment complexes, resorts, hotels, hospitals, shopping malls, etc. The constructed 3D models can then be explored online using computers, smartphones and tablets. Furthermore, the system can be used for mapping or exploring buildings in situations where it is dangerous or impractical for people to enter, which is often the case in rescue and law-enforcement applications. Given the wide range of potential customers, the proposed system has the potential to generate both one-time earnings as well as recurring income streams. The objective of the project is to develop a system for inexpensive generation of photo-realistic 3D models of building interiors and exteriors and provide an on-line interactive visualization interface for the viewing of the 3D models. The proposed system is based on a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with a wireless camera that can semi-autonomously fly inside and around the building, video record all the interior and exterior structures, and send the video and other recorded information to the base station where the 3D model is constructed using computer vision techniques. The proposed system requires the development of two innovative technologies: (1) semi-automated construction of texture-mapped 3D models of structures video recorded from a flying vehicle, and (2) semi-autonomous flying of an UAV inside and around a building based on the video stream from the UAV's camera. While 3D scanning is an existing technology and small UAVs have already been developed, this proposal will combine these technologies and enhance their capabilities to deliver new value. In addition, computer, smartphone and tablet software for interactive visualization and exploration of the constructed 3D models will be developed along with a user-friendly interface.