3d pointclouds
Case Study

3d Pointclouds


Enables a robot to steer safely through unknown and potentially dangerous 3D environments

3D Environment Visualisazion

The robot carries a rotating 3D Laser Range Finder (specially developed for this application). The laser data, consisting of 3D point clouds is transmitted to a control PC where it is processed. The processing involves matching new data to previously collected points in such a way that a coherent point cloud results which is correctly representing the environment. On the PC, a viewer application allows the operator to observe this representation in a convenient way.

icon-point cloud


3D Laser Range finder creates a pointcloud of the environment. By moving the robot, several pointclouds are created from different positions. This gives a “denser” pointcloud with more information.


Sensor Data

Robot sensor data like IMU (inertia measurement unit) and encoder data (wheel rotations) are added to the model as additional information source.


Data Processing

Advanced algorithms process all data from the stitched pointcloud and the onboard sensor data to calculate the exact position in the 3D space.

How it works 

The navigation system has a modular architecture. This is mainly possible due to the use of Ethernet for communications. Depending on which modules are mounted / used, the navigation filter on the PC computer can provide a better or rather rough localization estimation. The software architecture is based on individually coded modules which communicate over inter-process channels in order to share information.

Implemented modules

· The motor control software (which includes the navigation filter)
· Laser point cloud processor
· The 3D visualization module
· The video recording and playback module


The navigation modules communicate to a control PC over Ethernet. The data is evaluated by software directly on the PC. The robot control software also runs on the PC and sends motion commands to the on-board motor controllers over Ethernet.

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