The Finnish State Technical Research Centre has developed what is claimed to be the world’s first real-time photogrammetric measuring system, Tietoviikko magazine reports from Helsinki. The three-dimensional inspection device, dubbed Mapvision, for Machine Automated Photogrammetric Vision System, is driven by an Intel 80286 microprocessor. The real-time feature is claimed to give Mapvision its edge over other photogrammetric machine vision inspection systems: two to four semiconductor cameras transmit three-dimensional measurement data directly to the processor, which compares the actual image with a stored image of what the part should look like. The system is designed to replace inspection of parts by contact sensors, which might involve taking readings at 250 different checkpoints, and require 30 minutes or more; to get the same information with analogue pictures could take weeks, but Mapvision does the same task in about six minutes. For example, measuring a car door with a contact sensor takes 20 minutes; Mapvision does it in 30 seconds. Development was completed almost a year ago, since when it has been under test with the Finnish Air Force and a shipbuilder in Turku, Finland. After pilots had perpetrated several hairy landings, the Air Force used Mapvision to enable the pilot to check the alignment of the aircraft landing gear as he prepared to set the craft down. And shipbuilders have used the system to gauge the size and shape of components. Following those two successful demonstrations of the systems capability, the first two commercial systems were sold this year, to Ernst Leitz Wetzlar GmbH in West Germany and Switzerland. Mapvision is especially suited to highly automated production facilities such as in the auto industry, according to a spokesman for the research centre, adding that the real-time capability would speed production and prevent work stoppages in manufacturing. Improvements in quality control are expected because all parts can be inspected before assembly, and all assembly can be done under constant surveillance. Mapvision systems are priced from about $82,000.