In recent years, the development of high definition 3D laser scanners (HDS) has allowed accident investigators the ability to more quickly, accurately and effectively document vehicles and accident scenes.
These laser scanners are capable of quickly recording a data set made up of millions of points, accurate to a few millimeters. This data set, often referred to as a point cloud, can then be processed to create a 3D model, from which accurate measurements can be made allowing accident investigators to more accurately analyze evidence such as tire marks, debris and vehicle crush.
Because of the speed and detail at which the data is captured, accident investigators can accurately capture an entire scene or object without having to predetermine what specific data needs to be collected. This enables investigators the ability to reference and analyze all the information throughout the entire accident reconstruction process from start to finish.
As with any forensic tool, there are associated benefits and limitations to 3D laser scanning technology. The many benefits include safety, speed, accuracy, and efficiency. One of the limitations of 3D laser scanners is they cannot be used to collect data points on all types of surfaces and in all conditions. For example, highly reflective and glossy surfaces as well as dark or highly absorptive surfaces can make capturing point data difficult.
Finally, the use of 3D laser scanning technology and point clouds also greatly aids the process of creating photo realistic 3D environments, vehicles and other objects, which can improve the overall quality of the information presented in an animation or graphic visualization.