Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) is a technique of building a map of an area while at the same time determining the explorer's position on that map. It has been extensively researched in robotics where it is considered a prerequisite for truly autonomous robots.


A team from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory has developed a SLAM system for human users based on a sensor array strapped to the subject's chest. The system builds a map in real time as the subject moves through the environment. Humans move more erratically than robots making it more difficult to get accurate readings from the sensors.


The researchers built the wearable mapping system with emergency personnel in mind. When entering unknown territory first responders who are wearing the SLAM system will automatically create a map of the environment they're exploring. The data can then be transmitted wirelessly making the map immediately available to an offsite commander.


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