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Mapping Interior Spaces With Robots And GIS 47

Posted by Zonk
from the now-we'll-know-where-to-put-that-table dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "In an article about GIS and Robotics, Directions Magazine reports that architects and other professionals can now use spatially intelligent robots to collect interior space data. With such mapping robots, it's possible to capture accurate data for over 10,000 square meters per day and to easily integrate it with existing software. The article doesn't mention the sources for its illustrations about these robotic systems, so I thought I'd point them out: a company in Maine called Penobscot Bay Media. You'll find more details and pictures about these mapping robots at ZDNet."
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Mapping Interior Spaces With Robots And GIS

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 07, 2006 @02:36PM (#16349661)
    ...was in colonoscopies, but all of the patients so far have died of massive internal bleeding.
    • by tomhudson (43916)

      Actually, it will be pretty handy for something closely related - a lot of older cities don't have accurate blueprints of their sewer systems ... oops, it depends on GPS - no satellite signal in "the tubes" ... guess that's one more idea in the toilet ...

      • by TubeSteak (669689)
        Actually, it will be pretty handy for something closely related - a lot of older cities don't have accurate blueprints of their sewer systems ... oops, it depends on GPS - no satellite signal in "the tubes" ... guess that's one more idea in the toilet ...
        They could probably replace the GPS with an inertial navigation/dead reckoning setup.

        The more advanced ones are highly accurate
  • How long before the robots start telling each other the same thing?
  • Here's the Video (Score:3, Informative)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @02:57PM (#16349829) Journal
    Coralized so as not to /. their server
    15 MB http://www.penbaymedia.com.nyud.net:8080/demos/Spa tial-Robotics.wmv [nyud.net]

    • by sgt_doom (655561)
      Great video...a robotic stalker, huh?
      • by TubeSteak (669689)
        Yea, I noticed that to, right at the end.

        For everyone else: They suggest that you could use the robot as a sentry to patrol buildings and detect movement/changes in the environment. Which makes me wonder what its runtime is.
        • For everyone else: They suggest that you could use the robot as a sentry to patrol buildings and detect movement/changes in the environment. Which makes me wonder what its runtime is.

          I don't really get this. Would using a robot really have any advantages over building a sensor network? Seems like you could build and deploy a lot of sensors for the cost of a robot, and have much better coverage besides.

          Plus, a robot following any sort of predictable rounds is vulnerable to being diverted or otherwise disable
  • this could have as easily been categorized as a "your rights" issue. how cool that they can now map out where people spend their time. i'm sure they'll use that information for the betterment of all of us.
    • by megaditto (982598)
      Well, this could be useful for our soldiers in the field. Send a 'spiderbot' into an Iraqi house to map out the insides and scout for hostage locations. Then smoke the place up and send in the soldiers with infrared-enhanced VR goggles on or something.
    • by Drall (1006725)
      Well, some researchers are doing work on access analysis using agent-based simulations (not using robots to do the survey, though). It gets used to see, for example, whether a particular building design or urban plan unconsciously channels people's movement into or out of particular areas. Whether this is a Good Thing(tm) is left as an exercise for the student..
  • Cool (Score:3, Funny)

    by fa2k (881632) <pmbjornstad AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday October 07, 2006 @03:35PM (#16350083)
    Can I have my home as a CS:Source map now, please ?

    Seriously though, I don't see many uses for this isolated tech. It is, however, necessary to have something like this in 'intelligent' robots.
  • Looks like these are descendants of Shakey the Robot [sri.com]. Funny how Shakey's not mentioned anywhere in those links...
    • by Hrodgare (583263) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @05:39PM (#16350811) Homepage
      Because modern mobile robots are only minimally similar to Shakey-- the algorithms which make mapping and localization possible are statistical, rather than logical, and Shakey was logic-based system. Furthermore, Shakey wasn't a whole lot more than a physical incarnation of a blocksworld agent. In a sense, all modern mobile robots are distantly related to Shakey-- but only in the same sense as they're distantly related to Rodney Brooks' subsumption architecture robots. I'm surprised this article is coming up as news; robots capable of mapping and localization tasks have been around for several years now, and there's a great deal of off the shelf software (open source and otherwise) capable of this.
  • by valkabo (840034)
    Impressive! This could be very useful in a lot of situations.. Keeping in mind that this is the very generation, there could very well be later generations that could map rooms in mere minutes, and then other ones to map rubble in minutes.. then when disaster strikes, in goes the robots to map stuff out, and people to follow.

    Also.. its one step closer to our favorite person ever made.

    DATA! WOOT!
    • by paxmaniac (988091)
      Impressive! This could be very useful in a lot of situations.. Keeping in mind that this is the very generation, there could very well be later generations that could map rooms in mere minutes, and then other ones to map rubble in minutes.. then when disaster strikes, in goes the robots to map stuff out, and people to follow.

      Actually, the current technology is quite capable of mapping a room in a few seconds - essentially as fast as you can drive a robot through the room with line of sight to all the co
  • For those Firefox users that haven't seen it yet, here's the Greasemonkey script I wrote to hide Roland Piquepaille stories from Slashdot: http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/5738 [userscripts.org]

    Enjoy
    • by Dysproxia (584031) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @04:14PM (#16350297)
      here's the Greasemonkey script I wrote to hide Roland Piquepaille stories from Slashdot
      Why aren't you using it then?
    • by caseih (160668)
      I don't mind his posts so much some of the time (I never go to his site ever), but he uses dishonest means to drive traffic to his own sites and blogs to get ad revenue. This time he says "You'll find more details and pictures about these mapping robots at ZDNet" but really it's not a ZDnet article at all; it's his blog. Slashdot editors, please either edit his posts to report the truth, or don't post his stories at all.
  • As always, we must look to the porn industry to find a way to make money from this new technology before it trickles down (sic) to the average user.
  • Is someone trying get to the topic of mathematics?
  • Indoors you don't have gps, so you have to rely on other sensor input. An article on IEEE mentioned robots with radar which created small map segments which were stiched to create a big map.
  • A shameless plug :) (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Soul-Burn666 (574119) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @05:53PM (#16350889) Journal
    As a small semestrial academic project, I worked on a different kind of mapping project which uses a large number of very simple (and cheap) robots instead of a small number of expensive robots like in this article.

    Each robot is aware of its location through odometry (measuring the distance traveled by both the of the bot's wheels) and collision detection using, in our case, a rotating straw due to the fact we were limited to Lego Mindstorms.
    Using odometry inserts a lot of error to the calculations. To counter these errors, the robots communicate over a short distance (touching distance) and average their expected location and heading.

    In theory, and simulation, the algorithm proved very successful. Especially for a large number of agents.
    In practice the errors were too large compared to the very small number of agents (4) we had at our disposal.

    The project page [technion.ac.il].
    And the simulation [technion.ac.il] applet, written with NetLogo.

    I wonder if they use such averaging algorithms with these robots aswell.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by w33v1l (896653)
      One technique for dealing with errors and gradual drift is the use of a covariance matrix to allow the propagation of location information through a scene. Such as in Andrew Davison's work http://www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~ajd/ [ic.ac.uk] , although this only deals with a very sparse map of feature points, using mono vision in real-time. One nice thing about his SceneLib and MonoSLAMGlow software, is that it'll work with a relatively cheap single webcam.

      Another nice visual SLAM (Simultaneous Localisation And Mapping) page is

  • If one of these rolled into your cubicle/office/building, would you:
    a) punt it
    2) hack it
    c) disassemble it for useful parts
    d) melt it down for useful chemicals and metals

    and although I can't imagine a /.er chosing this one, I'll go ahead and include it:
    e) let it map the interior of your personal space
  • by Ceriel Nosforit (682174) on Saturday October 07, 2006 @06:39PM (#16351177)
    I've been thinking about implementing Time Difference of Arrival [wikipedia.org] plus echo-locationing to do a very similar thing. Plus, this method could be used to scan in 3D with ease. Not to mention a number of other interesting applications, such as beamforming plus distance awareness.

    The very same code could be used for EM for a sort of total situation awareness radar, passive and active.

    Next up: death ray! Mwahahahaah!
  • With such mapping robots, it's possible to capture accurate data for over 10,000 square meters per day and to easily integrate it with existing software.
  • i followed the link and all i've been able to surmise is that they're not talking about Google Image Search.
  • From the article it looks a lot like an ActivMedia [activrobots.com] Pioneer with a SICK laser which you can control through Player/Stage [sourceforge.net] and includes all of the mapping algrothims, still have to do work to make it work however.

    This looks like a fairly standard reasearch project for undergrad student, player/stage is littered with uni students asking questions about using these type of modules

    I am not suprised by the lack of accuracy in the shown map, you normally get a lot of errors due to the robot not accurately figurin

  • Hmmm.... okay. So these robots map the interior of large office buildings and the like. What I want to know is: what owner, manager, or tenant of a large office building, worth hundreds of thousand to millions of dollars, does not already have an accurate blueprint? Hell, in most cases you can get copies from the city for a few bucks!
  • Ok, shameless plug :-) If you like GIS-related stories... see my sig!

I took a fish head to the movies and I didn't have to pay. -- Fish Heads, Saturday Night Live, 1977.

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