Looks like the kids at MIT might have a little competition for their LIDAR-equipped 3D mapping drone
. Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have teamed up with the University of Missouri-Columbia for a prototype robot that uses light detection and ranging (similar to RADAR, but with lasers) to map areas and send the 3D data to a nearby laptop. The technology not only provides detailed info on floor plans and physical structures (such as possible structural damage) but it can also "see" people inside a space. There are many possible applications for this, from spotting terrorists hiding in caves to seeing if your new internet girlfriend really looks like her profile pic, or -- and this is especially important in the modern era -- seeing if your new internet girlfriend is actually a terrorist (we wondered why she wanted that first meeting to take place in a cave). "Once you have the images, you can zoom in on objects and look at things from different angles," says Dr. Norbert Maerz, associate professor of geological engineering at Missouri S&T -- an ability that we wish we had while browsing PlentyofFish.com.