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A Comparison of the Terrestrial Laser Scanner & Total Station for Scene Documentation

Eugene Liscio, Adam Hayden, & James Moody

Abstract: The use of the laser scanner for documentation at crime and collision scenes has grown significantly over the past ten years. Many law enforcement agencies and private firms who have traditionally used hand measurements or total stations have migrated over to the laser scanner because of the speed, ease of use, and amount of data it can capture. Unlike the total station, the laser scanner requires post processing to align all the separate scans. Depending on the method chosen, differences in accuracy may be noted. However, the use of external references such as spheres or checkerboard targets allows for a robust registration of scan data. Rather few studies have been published that look at the differences in accuracies between laser scanners and total stations. Therefore, this study looks to make a comparison between 20 distance measurements obtained by each instrument at a small to medium outdoor “scene”. The data obtained shows that, on average, the laser scanner and total station provide measurements that are within 0.8 mm of each other with a standard deviation of 2 mm. In one instance there was a maximum difference of 6 mm while in three cases the measurement errors were 0.000 mm.


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