Laser-scanning software provides tunnel vision

The geotechnical Visualisation Tool produced by the National Science Foundation is being used to chart the route for a tunnel excavation.

Roadworkers tunnelling through the Devil's Slide, a perilously landslide-prone area on California's Highway 1, are using laser scanning software developed by the National Science Foundation [NSF] to safely plan the tunnel route.

The technology, named the geotechnical Visualisation Tool [gVT], can be used to analyse the rock formation and convert the data into a 3D image.

California Department of Transportation [Caltrans] engineers can use the tool to watch rock layers as they separate and observe the orientation of the fractures. The software can be used remotely, and at any time.

The gVT was developed in one of the NSF's Information Technology Research Initiative [ITR] projects.

The highway near the Devil's Slide has had a chequered history since it was severely damaged by a landslide in 1940, three years after it was built.

A bypass or tunnel has been planned since the 1970s, but has been continually opposed by segments of the nearby population. Construction of the tunnel began in 2005.

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