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Newrybar scientist revolutionises map-making with "lasers"

LASER SHARP: CSIRO Zebedee team at the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes: Dr Elliot Duff, Paul Flick, Dr Michael Bosse, Dr Robert Zlot, Dr Gautam Tendulkar and Dr Peter Kambouris.
LASER SHARP: CSIRO Zebedee team at the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes: Dr Elliot Duff, Paul Flick, Dr Michael Bosse, Dr Robert Zlot, Dr Gautam Tendulkar and Dr Peter Kambouris. Daniel Odoherty

NEWRYBAR-born scientist Paul Flick is revolutionising cartography with a new mapping program that uses lasers to generate three-dimensional maps.

The program has had such an impact, Mr Flick and the team of six scientists he has worked with on the program have been recognised at the 2013 Australian Museum Prizes, winning the award for Innovative Use of Technology.

The Zebedee 3D mapping system took out the technology prize for its innovation in allowing mapmakers to electronically map areas as they walk through them.

The system works without a GPS tracker, instead using laser beams and springs to create a 3D profile up to 30m around the device.

Cartographers who are fitted with the system can simply nod up and down and what they see in an area will be converted into a map.

Mr Flick said the system is particularly useful for mapping intricate areas like caves and is about as big as a cordless drill.

He said it was amazing to get recognition from the Australian Museum after spending eight years developing the hardware for the system.

"Getting this sort of recognition from the scientific community is huge and we're all really excited about the award," Mr Flick said.

He lives in Brisbane and works as a mechatronics specialist with CSIRO.

He said the Zebedee technology will make the job of mapmakers and scientists just like him a lot easier.

"It's quicker to map areas that are intricate like caves as you get coverage every-where rather than just where you set the tripod," Mr Flick said.

"The Zebedee means we are able to map areas you couldn't map before because it would take too long.

"Now it's easier to map areas like heritage sites and it's also a lot cheaper than other systems."

Mr Flick said the next step for the Zebedee 3D mapping system is to make it smaller and more portable.

He also said the team had received requests from companies involved in police forensic investigations to use the technology.



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