Report Date

January 2016


This report is to provide the reader with a basic understanding of 3D laser scanning instruments as well as their use, benefits, and limitations. The report discusses forensic applications associated with 3D laser scanner technology and provides the forensic community with an impartial resource that compares the features and capabilities of the available 3D laser scanning instruments.

Report Summary

Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) has become the gold standard of measurement and is the basis for 3D laser scanning technology used today in multiple disciplines that range from engineering to meteorology to medicine. A growing number of crime scene units recognize the benefits of adopting 3D laser scanning instruments to assist with bloodstain pattern analysis, shooting incident reconstruction, traffic collision data collection, and general crime scene reconstruction. 3D laser scanners offer crime scene units an excellent tool to increase the speed and efficiency of data collection. The instruments provide scientifically accurate data that enable a completely objective analysis and highly credible evidence in a court of law. Data obtained from scans document the entire scene and may provide special evidence first missed as relevant patterns or evidence not obviously visible. This landscape study provides several real-world examples and lessons learned from the implementation of 3D laser scanning instruments. The discussions captured in this study highlight the agencies’ different needs and methods for procurement, training, and implementation. Key questions to ask related to each of these areas are provided.

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