Fast and Easy 3D Cave Mapping

  1. CAVE SURVEY TOOL - Records standard cave survey measurements (distance, azimuth, and inclination) in a single 3 second reading with station name entry.                     
  2. 3D LIDAR SCANNER - Handheld collection of point cloud scans of cave walls and features while traversing through cave with no extra equipment other than a single small station marker card.
  3. DESIGNED FOR CAVER EASE OF USE - Operates in a manner similar to existing cave survey methods for familiarity with a simple touchscreen GUI interface.

The Caveatron is a unique compact, handheld, electronic device for mapping caves or other underground environments. It functions as a cave survey tool, recording conventional distance, azimuth and inclination measurements and can also go far beyond that with its integrated LIDAR to capture a full 3D scan of the cave interior. It greatly speeds up the cave survey process by recording station-to-station shots in just a few seconds and performs a station-to-station 3D scan traverse in less than a minute. The user can fully interact with the device and review data with the built-in touchscreen. A USB port provides access to the stored data from a PC or Mac and is also used to charge the integrated long-life battery pack. The station measurement file is compatible with Walls Cave Mapping Software and the LIDAR scan file can be quickly processed into a standard point cloud with custom-written software. The Caveatron is designed to be easily portable, lightweight, and low cost as well as water and dirt resistant and durable enough to survive regular use in a cave.

The design has recently been updated with a faster processor, enabling 4 times the scan resolution, an enhanced IMU for better position accuracy, easier data transfer, and other new features. The enclosure is now a bit smaller, more waterproof, uses a custom printed circuit board, and can be fully 3D printed. 

Rendered model of a portion of Robber Baron Cave, San Antonio, TX as scanned by the Caveatron. The entrance is in yellow.

Caveatron Specifications

SpecificationValue/Range Accuracy/Notes
Compass0-360°Less than +/ - 1.5°
Inclination-90° to +90°Less than +/- 1°
Distance0.1 m - 40 m+/- 2 mm
LIDAR Range0.1 m - 12 m
Less than 1% of range
LIDAR Spatial Resolution5-8 cm in a 10 m wide passage
3-5 cm in a 5 m wide passage
Depends on movement speed
and wall distance
Scan Measurement Rate8000 pts/sec
Approximate Run TimeGreater than 7 hrsContinuous scanning time 
- longer in real world use
Enclosure Dimensions
(with LIDAR)
20.5 cm x 14.1 cm x 19.0 cmWaterproof
(with LIDAR)
1.1 kg

© Copyright 2020 Joe Mitchell

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