Completely mapping the interior of a building may sound like a fantastically complex and time-consuming project, but Australian developers have made it as simple as moving your feet. CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has developed a 3D mapping system called Zebedee that uses a laser scanner mounted on a spring to capture the internal dimensions and measurements of a space, and it can do it as fast as the operator can walk through. To demonstrate the new technology, researchers mapped the entire interior of the Leaning Tower of Pisa – the first such map ever to be devised.

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For their initiative dubbed “Project Pisa,” Zebedee developers mapped the interior of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in a mere 20 minutes. The scans are incredibly detailed, giving not just a representation of the inside of the building, but a complete re-creation, right down to small details in the stonework. The project is expected to not only give people the chance to examine treasures like the Tower of Pisa, but help to preserve other such sites. “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,” said Franco Tecchia, Assistant Professor at the PERCRO – Perceptual Robotics lab.

The Zebedee technology is also being used to assist in mining operations, allowing for not only better mapping and management of their operations, but also for security forces to scan crime scenes. The awards that the Zebedee research has already won, including the 2013 Eureka Prize and the iAward for Research and Development, are well earned, and no doubt this is just the beginning of the innovation that we’ll see from the technology.