Precious heritage sites can indeed be threatened when hit by natural disasters. Take for example 10 years ago, when back-to-back hurricanes Katrina and Rita severely damaged the city of New Orleans.
This week, WIRED filed a story about efforts to digitally preserve the “Crescent City” and called out the involvement of HERE, which has donated LiDAR data of historic sites such as New Orleans’ French Quarter to CyArk, a non-profit foundation created in 2003 to create elaborate 3D models of locations around the world.
Autonomous cars’ technology to the rescue
Our mapping vehicles are built for creating highly detailed, accurate models of roads and cities using LiDAR. With 32 laser pulses, our vehicles hit 700,000 points per second with a range of 230 feet and an average accuracy of within five inches. That is a remarkably detailed image, and created unbelievably fast.
Autonomous cars need such a highly detailed map not only to precisely position themselves laterally and longitudinally, but to maneuver correctly too.
By donating the same high-resolution 3D models of a city to CyArk, we’re extending that information’s use beyond our normal business of maps and navigation, and into preservation, education and historical research.
Elizabeth Lee, vice president of CyArk, previously told us that use of 3D models is vital. “The 3D models can be used to create an accurate record of our cultural heritage. We work with local groups on nearly all of our projects, so those groups are able to use the models in ongoing restoration or conservation work.
“The use of precision LiDAR equipment gives so much more information than photographs. This is engineering-grade data that can be drawn into CAD programs to understand everything about the site concerned.”
The models can also be studied by historians or simply stored carefully to ensure that accurate records of our past are preserved for posterity.
Alex Davies recently wrote on WIRED that “the resulting maps and fly-through visualizations give the impression of navigating a video game world, one accurate to within roughly five inches. You can practically see the beads flying. It’s very cool to explore New Orleans from a computer thousands of miles away, but the real value of these maps is as a blueprint, in case you need to rebuild.”
See for yourself with the help of our images and video how our LiDAR technology can help digitally preserve New Orleans’ historical districts. If you’re interested in what CyArk do, take a look at their online gallery of projects.