MARCH 2015
Capture the World using New 3D Mapping Technology

Two-dimensional mapping is fast becoming history in the digital world: Three Dimensional (3D) mapping has arrived. Utilizing an algorithm which can map the views of buildings and landmarks, HKUST’s professor Long Quan and his research team in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering have developed a comprehensive 3D mapping technology and platform.

The research team uses aerial images and computer programming to produce the first-ever comprehensive 3D map of Hong Kong. Professor Quan and his team spent over ten years to develop an algorithm, which could map out high resolution side views of buildings and landmarks based on top images obtained from planes, helicopters or drones. The new mapping technology replaces the current way of having staff manually inputting missing details and vastly improves the accuracy of the map created. The quality of the end product is something that even giant tech firms in China and the US cannot match yet.

“People want perfections: Our technology holds tremendous potential for a variety of applications, identifies city attractions, and can be used to analyze residential-area activities and behavior. It will help city planners, logistics firms and navigation companies in their work,” said Prof Quan. The breakthrough by HKUST will improve accuracy of ground resolution to within a few square centimeters, bringing the real world to the front of your eyes in a 3D map.

The University is now partnering with Google, Singapore’s ST Engineering, China’s TOPRS in China and France’s Thales Group – a multinational aerospace, defence, transport and security firm – to take images from drones and create maps for use in search and rescue missions. The grand collaboration will help boost innovation, nurture young engineers and facilitate active exchange among local and international researchers.