GeoSLAM Technology Put to the Test in Deep Time Isolation Experiment

Geospatial 3D mapping specialists, GeoSLAM, provided the technology to scan one of Europe’s largest caves, as a part of the Deep Time isolation study.

GeoSLAM Deeptime 2

The versatility of the ZEB Horizon device enabled the Deep Time team to map the complex and challenging environment.

For 40 days, 15 participants set up camp in the Lombrives cave in southwestern France with no clocks or sunlight, and zero contact to the outside world. Conducted by the Human Adaption Institute, the experiment aimed to explore the links between the human brain and time, in order to gain insight into the limits of human adaptability to isolation.

Throughout the mission, the ‘deeptimers’ organised tasks to complete within the cave setting, to help structure their days. Their first task was to conduct a recce of the location.

GeoSLAM technology was called upon to conduct a digital scan of the 3km Lombrives cave – a cave system consisting of both narrow passages and expansive chambers up to 70 meters in high, formed over 125 million years ago.

The lightweight ZEB Horizon device was used, which harnesses GeoSLAM’s unique SLAM (simultaneous localisation and mapping) algorithm, putting to the test the device’s 100m range capabilities. Its versatility and walk-and-scan method of data collection allowed the team the flexibility to crouch, crawl and scan the depths and narrow canals of the cave, including 90m deep wells.

Traditional tripod-based systems used for digital mapping rely heavily on GPS to collect accurate data. SLAM technology however, overcomes this limitation by cutting out GPS altogether, enabling scans to be carried out in complex and enclosed spaces, including underground.

With low light levels, an ambient temperature of 10 degrees and humidity levels of 100 per cent, the physical and psychological impacts the team experienced were documented on camera.

Commenting on the company’s involvement in the project, GeoSLAM Channel Manager for Europe, including France where the study took place, Tomas Blaha said:

“We are thrilled to have been associated with the Human Adaption Institute on such an exciting and historic project. The hand-held capabilities of the ZEB Horizon device provided easy-to-use technology for the members of the team with no professional surveying experience.

“The study tested the limits of human endurance in a challenging environment and the same can be said of the technology to survey the Lombrives cave. Using traditional static and GPS-based scanners would have been impossible for this project, so we are delighted that the ZEB Horizon’s adaptability and ruggedness played its part in an historic piece of research.”

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