Technology 4 min read

Law Enforcement Uses High-tech FARO X330 to Reconstruct Plane Crash

Andrii Vodolazhsky |

Andrii Vodolazhsky |

Law Enforcement in Utah is making good use of a high-definition surveying camera. Read on to find out more about this wonderful little high-def scanning device.

Ever played the popular “Arkham” series of Batman games? Superhero tech sometimes puts one foot in reality, and that’s no more true than it is for Batman’s tech. I bring this up because those games get it right.

More to the point, Batman’s gadgets aren’t always for throwing or grappling from wall to wall. Instead, devices like the Voice Synthesizer and Remote Hacking Device aid the dark knight in his detective work by allowing him to access new areas and perspectives that were previously unavailable. Other gadgets scan the crime scene with a neat laser light show, and that leads you to all the evidence you need to break the case.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had something like that in the real world? Wouldn’t it be nice if we had, say, a high definition rendering camera mounted on a flying drone?

Don’t be silly, dear reader.

Of course we have high definition rendering cameras that can be mounted on drones. And what’s more, they may help emergency responders get to the bottom of the very worst accidents and natural disasters.

Say hello to the FARO X330.

The Hi-definition Drone Detective

The FARO X330 is an incredible piece of hardware.

It uses lasers and cameras to produce a high-definition 3D map–which, by itself, is nothing new considering its two-year age. Put it on a drone, however, and you can use it to access perspectives that one person isn’t capable of achieving.

Places like roadways riddled with debris from a catastrophic event.

Take, for example, a recent accident where a plane crashed into Utah’s Interstate 15.

According to Sgt. Randall Akers, the Utah Highway Patrol bought seven FARO X330s to help with the investigation. These drones helped give the patrol a 360-degree rendering of the scene, an invaluable resource when it comes to understanding the context of an extreme event.

faro x330
Image courtesy of Sgt. Randall Akers

Since that incident, Sgt. Todd Royce noted that the mapping drones have been used about once a week. Sometimes it’s for the site of a major crash, other times it’s playing Batman and rendering a crime scene.

Either way, it’s pretty cool, and a novel idea for what is essentially surveying equipment. Surveying equipment is crucial to learning the lay of the land before construction, and now it’s pretty useful for investigations.

Not the Hi-def Drone They Want, but the one They Need

Ok, the FARO X330 is pretty awesome, and we love the idea for using it in investigations. Check and check.

But it takes time to set up multiple scans for the machine, and you need multiple scans for various reasons. That’s kind of a drawback when you consider the initial purpose of saving lives.

One of the initial hopes of the Patrol was that the devices would help them clear up major crashes and get traffic back on track quickly. But, since you need multiple scans to get everything right, it’s not all that fast.

Despite this drawback, it stands to reason that the drones don’t slow down the process of recovery. After all, even a quick scan of some accident scenes should be helpful in rescue efforts, especially if a drone can fit where a human can’t.

The FARO X330 may not be every bit as useful as originally intended, but it is amazing just how useful it has become. From surveying tool to potential lifesaver, this little gem of a machine is an impressive example of how innovation can expand something’s usefulness.

It reminds us that Industry 4.0 is all about taking advantage of existing infrastructures with new technologies.

Where else could these mapping techniques be used?

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William McKinney

William is an English teacher, a card carrying nerd, And he may run for president in 2020. #truefact #voteforedgy

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