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MIT unveils automatic map builder

Researchers hope to develop a tool that helps emergency teams coordinate disaster response.

September 28, 2012

According to MIT News, researchers of the instituition have built a wearable sensor system that automatically creates a digital map of the environment through which the wearer is moving.

Maurice Fallon, the lead researcher behind the projetc, says that “the operational scenario that was envisioned for this was a hazmat situation where people are suited up with the full suit, and they go in and explore an environment. The current approach would be to textually summarize what they had seen afterward — ‘I went into this room on the left, I saw this, I went into the next room,’ and so on. We want to try to automate that.”

(image: Maurice Fallon | MIT)

The prototype of the sensor platform is made of a handful of devices (including a Microsoft Kinnect) attached to a sheet of hard plastic about the the size of an iPad, which is worn on the chest like a backward backpack. Researchers say the whole system could be shrunk to about the size of a coffee mug.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, check out the video:

The prototype system is fully described in a paper slated for the Intelligent Robots and Systems conference in Portugal next month. Besides Fallon, the paper is co-signed by professors John Leonard (department of Mechanical Engineering) and Seth Teller (department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) and EECS grad students Hordur Johannsson and Jonathan Brookshire.  The hope is that someday this prototype becomes a useful tool to help emergency responders coordinate disaster response.
Links: MIT – Automatic building mapping could help emergency responders

Written by Tiago Veloso

Tiago Veloso is the founder and editor of Visualoop and Visualoop Brasil . He is Portuguese, currently based in Bonito, Brazil.