Gizmodo, of all blogs, reports on the expanded use of 3D laser scanners by police in the UK.
In the UK as in the US, a car wreck involving injuries or fatalities must be painstakingly recorded and preserved for insurance and court proceedings. Police investigators might block off the roadway for several hours as they take pictures of the scene and record measurements to log what happened. In the US, accident reconstruction is also big business, with experts retained by lawyers to discuss speeds, trajectories and impact physics.
The laser scanner will capture a 360-degree image of a crash scene, the BBC reports. Mounted on a tripod, a laser scans the horizon and records up to 30 million separate data points, down to sub-millimeter resolution. Each sweep takes four minutes, and investigators will typically make four sweeps, the BBC says. The image can then be processed into a 3-D computer model, allowing investigators to see where the vehicles are located relative to each other, tire skid marks, and other evidence.