Tommy Hinks is currently based in Dublin as a PhD student "working on methods that will make Aerial Laser Scanning a first-class tool for urban modeling." MA in Computer Graphics from the University of Linköping, Sweden; he was awarded in 2008 Gold medal of the category 'Infrastructure Design and Production' for his research on Aerial LIDAR conducted in UCD.—http://csserver.ucd.ie/~thinks/
Article in Science Spin:
LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a 'remote sensing technology' that emits light in the form of many short laser pulses aimed in many different directions that bounce off the surroundings. Timings are converted into distance, thereby creating a 3D view of the surrounding. "Over the past few decades laser scanning has evolved into a formidable tool for rapidly and accurately recording 3D point data," Tommy commented.
He applied this technology to "capture" Dublin - that is to create a virtual city model of the Irish capital. For this he had to go airborne, flying in a particular pattern which optimised the path of the helicopter. But beyond this, they are designing a new method of extracting the relevant information from all the data, using a completely new approach to identify vertical surfaces.
"So the next step of our research is automatically generate models like the ones in Google Earth." The difference is that with Google Earth the images are made by hand by individual users. The data there is not verifiable, and not necessarily homogeneous with regards to level-of-detail. "With our technique in a few hours you get thousands of buildings, top quality, centimetre-accurate representation. It's automatic and much more efficient - an entire city in one day!". He hopes that in a few years time detailed digital city models will be available for everyone, from urban planners to game designers.—By Marie-Catherine Mousseau
"Down the Road", Marie-Catherine Mousseau, Science Spin, May, 2009, Issue 34, pp. 30-34.