Colourful 3D laser image of a two story building and courtyard with a staircase

A 3D point cloud map generated from CSIRO's 3D laser mapping system Zebedee.

3D Mapping on the go

We’ve partnered with global company 3D Laser Mapping to license our 3D mapping technology Zebedee to UK start-up GeoSLAM who will offer a low-cost cloud based 3D mapping service for business and industry.

  • 25 January 2013 | Updated 4 April 2013

The challenge

Producing reliable 3D maps of unknown environments can be a useful tool for many applications from street mapping, real estate and mining surveys to searching disaster sites or recording the exact details of a crime scene. But creating these 3D laser maps quickly, reliably and in any environment is currently a major challenge for business and industry.

Current mapping solutions require expensive laser scanners and skilled engineers to survey the environment and some won’t work accurately in areas with poor GPS signal. For a multi-storey building this might also mean waiting days or weeks for maps to be collected, processed and made available for download.

The solution

In order to overcome this challenge, we have teamed up with global distributor 3D Laser Mapping to license our reliable and low-cost Zebedee technology to UK start-up GeoSLAM who will offer the world's first mobile handheld laser mapping system together with a cloud-based 3D mapping service to the international market.

Zebedee is an accurate handheld 3D mapping device developed by CSIRO. The unit consists of a lightweight laser scanner and inertial measurement unit. Zebedee enables a user to generate a 3D map simply by walking through a desired location. The laser scanner rocks back and forward on a spring scanning the environment, whilst a battery pack and laptop for recording the 3D map data and uploading it to the web is stored in an easy to carry backpack.

Zebedee has advantages over traditional systems:

  • Rapid Scanning of Large Areas – scan at walking speed
  • Portable – the scanner goes wherever you go
  • Long Lasting – data capture all day long
  • Versatile - ideal in areas with no GPS
  • Cost Effective - no need for expensive software or high-end computers
  • Simple to use – only basic training required to operate
  • Automatic Data Processing – no processing staff required
  • Lightweight – less than 700g


The player will show in this paragraph

The Zebedee 3D mapping system in action


[Title page: Mobile Mapping Indoors and Outdoors with Zebedee]
[Music plays]
[Image zooms in on the individual pieces of equipment, Li-ion battery pack (13+ hours power), Zebedee with the parts labelled from top to bottom (respectively) Hokuyo 2D lidar, Micro Strain IMU, steel spring and an acquisition laptop]
[Title page: Mapping Buildings Interiors and Exteriors]
[Image changes to a man walking down some stairs holding a Zebedee]
[Caption at the bottom of the screen appears “The 2D lidar is passively actuated by the operator’s natural motion to scan in three dimensions”]
[Image changes to show the man exiting the building through sliding doors, still holding the Zebedee]
[Image changes to a computer generated image mapping the man’s movement captured from the Zebedee]
[Caption at the bottom of the screen appears “Custom software estimates the sensor trajectory and generates a registered point cloud”]
[Image changes back to the man walking with the Zebedee]
[Image changes back to a computer generated image mapping the man’s movements captured from the Zebedee]
[Image changes to a sketch with the title “Final point cloud model, 875m path, 19 min total acquisition time, 13 min processing time]
[Image is made into a 3D picture]
[Title page: Mapping Forests Mt Coot-tha, Brisbane]
[Image changes to man setting up the Zebedee then walking through a forest track]
[Image changes to a computer generated image mapping the man’s movements captured from the Zebedee]
[Camera pans out on the man walking through the forest]
[Image changes back to a computer generated image mapping the man’s movements captured from the Zebedee at four times the speed]
[Image changes to a sketch with the title “Final point cloud model, 7km path length, 2.3 hours total acquisition time]
[Caption at the bottom of the screen appears “The map consists of data from three sessions acquired in parallel by two operators and automatically aligned by the software”]
[Image moves back to the man in the forest. Credits roll R & D Team Mike Bosse, Robert Zlot, Paul Flick, Elliott Duff, Tom Lowe, Peyman Mo. Autonomous Systems Laboratory CSIRO ICT Centre Brisbane, Australia]

      The impact

      Together with our partners 3D Laser Mapping, the Zebedee system has the potential to reach users all over the world giving anyone the ability to rapidly and cost effectively generate 3D maps in any environment.

      "3D Laser Mapping chose to partner with CSIRO as they are uniquely positioned to undertake genuine innovation and have a successful track record of working effectively with a commercialisation partners to bring new technology to market."

      Dr Graham Hunter, Executive Chairman, 3D Laser Mapping.

      The availability of the technology has the potential to dramatically increase the use cases of 3D mapping improving its accessibility.

      "Our technology enables a suite of 3D mapping applications to be developed in wide ranging areas including education, cultural heritage, security, environment, property, emergency services and safety" said Dr Ian Oppermann, Director of the Digital Productivity and Services Flagship.

      The partnership between CSIRO and 3D Laser Mapping will see the commercial market of the Zebedee system where users can utilise 3D Laser Mapping’s data processing facilities, cloud-based mapping service, sophisticated software solutions and dedicated support staff.  

      To partner with us contact our business development team or find out more about our research in Smart Secure Infrastructure.