TOPEKA (KSNT) – Kansas State University has acquired a state-of-the-art tool for creating 3D models of indoor facilities using cloud scans and panoramic photos.

The technology called NavVis VLX was acquired through a $2 million Economic Adjustment Assistance grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, according to K-State. The Technology Development Institute (TDI) at K-State’s Carl R. Ice College of Engineering has started work documenting facilities and has scanned nearly 1 million square feet to date.

“This new scanning technology has allowed us to assist manufacturing companies in new ways, with technology they have never had the ability to utilize in the past,” Senior Engineer at TDI Jacob Picolet said. “From planning and simulation modeling to marketing, the ability to virtually walk through a facility and access data on what’s in it helps to streamline the process of changing out equipment or adding new operations.”

The scanner uses Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) to capture point data that represents 3D shapes or objects and panoramic images, according to K-State. The tool creates a model accurate down to 5mm.

Scans are processed on the NavVis servers and can be viewed online using the NavVis VLX viewing software. Results are similar to Google Street View but inside facilities, according to K-State.

The TDI has partnered with the K-State campus and planning project management department and the Applied Aviation Research Center at K-State Salina to scan the natatorium and gymnasium before their removal for historical purposes, according to K-State. For inaccessible exterior areas, drones are used to combine data for a complete virtual model of the building.