ClearEdge3D announced that it has won a research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to further develop its technology in the rapidly evolving field of automated feature extraction from 3D laser scan data. The grant, one of the most prestigious research awards in the United States, will be used by ClearEdge to enhance its industry-leading automated feature extraction algorithms with the goal of modeling entire facilities and whole city blocks in minutes.

The company’s software, EdgeWise, automates the extraction of complex CAD pipe and building geometry from 3D laser scanned data, dramatically reducing time to create accurate as-built 3D models. However, due to the “line of sight” limitations in laser scanning technology, there are always occluded regions of point cloud data that must be manually modeled. The core goal of the research grant is to devise algorithms that will automatically populate these occluded regions based on the feature pattern in the surrounding area.

“Our focus has always been to develop software that can complete a 3D model in minutes with only a few mouse clicks,” said Chris Scotton, the company’s president and CEO. “We are honored that the National Science Foundation, the premier federal research organization in the U.S., sees the potential of our automated 3D modeling technology. This research grant brings the prospect of accurate city-wide 3D models one step closer to reality,”

The National Science Foundation is a $6.8 billion U.S. government agency that supports research and education in all the fields of science and engineering. Thousands of businesses and universities compete for a very limited number of research grants. NSF funding has led to the discovery of numerous “game-changing” technologies such as cloud computing, bar codes and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Past NSF grant winners include a little-known Internet search engine called BackRub, which was later renamed Google. Google founder Sergey Brin, credits NSF with providing him with the early funding that made his vision a reality.