To read this content please select one of the options below:

Development of low-cost mobile laser scanning for 3D construction indoor mapping by using inertial measurement unit, ultra-wide band and 2D laser scanner

Chao Chen (Department of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China)
Llewellyn Tang (Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
Craig Matthew Hancock (Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China)
Penghe Zhang (University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 18 June 2019

Issue publication date: 2 August 2019




The purpose of this paper is to introduce the development of an innovative mobile laser scanning (MLS) method for 3D indoor mapping. The generally accepted and used procedure for this type of mapping is usually performed using static terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) which is high-cost and time-consuming. Compared with conventional TLS, the developed method proposes a new idea with advantages of low-cost, high mobility and time saving on the implementation of a 3D indoor mapping.


This method integrates a low-cost 2D laser scanner with two indoor positioning techniques – ultra-wide band (UWB) and an inertial measurement unit (IMU), to implement a 3D MLS for reality captures from an experimental indoor environment through developed programming algorithms. In addition, a reference experiment by using conventional TLS was also conducted under the same conditions for scan result comparison to validate the feasibility of the developed method.


The findings include: preset UWB system integrated with a low-cost IMU can provide a reliable positioning method for indoor environment; scan results from a portable 2D laser scanner integrated with a motion trajectory from the IMU/UWB positioning approach is able to generate a 3D point cloud based in an indoor environment; and the limitations on hardware, accuracy, automation and the positioning approach are also summarized in this study.

Research limitations/implications

As the main advantage of the developed method is low-cost, it may limit the automation of the method due to the consideration of the cost control. Robotic carriers and higher-performance 2D laser scanners can be applied to realize panoramic and higher-quality scan results for improvements of the method.

Practical implications

Moreover, during the practical application, the UWB system can be disturbed by variances of the indoor environment, which can affect the positioning accuracy in practice. More advanced algorithms are also needed to optimize the automatic data processing for reducing errors caused by manual operations.


The development of this MLS method provides a novel idea that integrates data from heterogeneous systems or sensors to realize a practical aim of indoor mapping, and meanwhile promote the current laser scanning technology to a lower-cost, more flexible, more portable and less time-consuming trend.



This research study is supported and funded by Ningbo Housing and Urban-Rural Development Committee and by Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No. LY16D040001. Relevant research expenses are from the budget with a code – B0033 for Ningbo Construction Research Program and Grant No. LY16D040001 for the NSFC laser scanning research project.


Chen, C., Tang, L., Hancock, C.M. and Zhang, P. (2019), "Development of low-cost mobile laser scanning for 3D construction indoor mapping by using inertial measurement unit, ultra-wide band and 2D laser scanner", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 26 No. 7, pp. 1367-1386.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles