National Showcaves of Wales Mapped Using ZEB1 Hand Held Laser Scanner

Nottingham, UK, 23 July 2014 – Students and staff from the University of South Wales have mapped in detail for the first time the spectacular underground cave system Dan-yr-Ogof or National Showcaves of Wales. Using a ZEB1 hand held laser scanner from 3D Laser Mapping the group was able to capture millions of highly accurate measurements. From these individual points, known collectively as a point cloud, highly detailed 3D models have been created showing some of the cave systems most intricate detail. These include the thousands of delicate stalactites which are a highlight of the popular tourist attraction the Cathedral Cave.

Led by Dr David Kidner and Dr Nathan Thomas, members of the University of South Wales GIS department used the ZEB1 hand held mapping system to document the award winning Cathedral Cave including the beautiful cavern known as The Dome of St. Pauls. Due to the compactness of the system and its ease of use, students, with little or no experience of laser scanning systems, were able to undertake the underground data capture after simple instruction. Holding the lightweight ZEB1 system and walking, at a normal pace, millions of highly accurate laser scanned measurements were recorded on the systems integrated data logger. The ZEB1s unique design also ensured the spatial accuracy of the captured data despite being operated underground without GPS signal.

Dr Thomas commented, The ZEB1 was much easier to use than more traditional laser scanning systems. There was no need for a complex set up to reference the captured data as the ZEB1 can self-localise without the need for GPS signal. Due to its simplicity of operation the students were able to be hands on during data capture and integrated data logger recorded the days work without having to link up to any other devices.

Working with the Universitys Department of Computing and Mathematics, in conjunction with the Software Alliance Wales, students instigated a series of projects to bring the laser scanned data to life. Alex Bainbridge, a student working towards an HND in Computer Games Development, worked with the data to explore the potential for 3D visualisation. Using both Open Source and commercial applications he was able to process the raw data into a series of output formats including a video tour and various 3D walkthroughs. It is hoped this will prove extremely useful for the National Showcaves for Wales and will feature on their new website together with a series of multi-media projects designed to engage visitors of all ages.

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Notes to Editors:

ZEB1 uses robotic technology called Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM). The ZEB1 system includes a lightweight laser scanner mounted on a simple spring mechanism, which continuously scans as the operator walks through the environment. As the scanner loosely oscillates about the spring it produces a rotation that converts 2D laser measurements into 3D fields of view. Its ability to self-localise makes ZEB1 ideally suited for use indoors, underground and in other covered environments, where traditional solutions that utilise GPS dont function well.

ZEB1 was developed by CSIRO, Australias national science agency, and is licenced to GeoSLAM (a UK based start-up company). The competitively priced ZEB1, now exclusively available from 3D Laser Mapping, allows for fast data capture without any complex set up. ZEB1 is easy to use, truly portable and does not require expensive software or high end computers to process the captured data.

3D Laser Mapping is a global developer of laser scanning solutions for sectors such as mapping, mining and manufacturing. 3D Laser Mapping specialises in integrating laser scanning hardware with their own software and peripherals to create solutions at the cutting edge of technology. Through a worldwide network of distributors 3D Laser Mapping is able to provide frontline support and service for a growing international client base. For further information see

CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world. CSIRO works with leading scientific organisations around the world, and is recognised internationally for the quality of its research. CSIRO’s research is performed by the 11 Divisions, which are the business units of CSIRO. CSIRO is one of the largest and most diverse scientific institutions in the world with more than 6500 staff located across 56 sites throughout Australia and overseas. For further information see

CSIROs Digital Productivity and Services Flagship is a $48 million research initiative targeting productivity growth in Australia through frontier services innovation and by unlocking the value of a national broadband infrastructure. Through its research the flagship will help add value to the Australian economy by developing and delivering more efficient and innovative services that improve peoples wellbeing and prosperity. For further information see