Superior Know-how in Forensic Engineering: 3D Scanning, HD Drones, Video Evaluation, and Berla iVe Automobile System Forensics | J.S. Held

[author: Chris Stewart]


Forensic know-how is transferring ahead at a speedy tempo. People are bombarded by excessive tech forensics in each TV present or film they watch. From CSI to MacGyver, investigators clear up their instances and issues with progressive know-how. Jury members usually are not resistant to the affect of those widespread media depictions; they anticipate to see superior know-how utilized within the evaluation of a case. These instances can vary from, however usually are not restricted to, visitors collisions, fireplace investigations, or structural failure investigations. As forensic engineers, downside fixing is our job, and utilizing superior know-how is predicted—not all the time by attorneys and adjusters, however definitely by jurors.

This text will focus on 3D scanners, excessive definition (HD) drones, video evaluation software program, and Berla iVe Automobile Infotainment information evaluation software program and study how they can be utilized in a case.

3D Scanning

Current developments in 3D scanner know-how have led to 3D scanning changing into a standard device in a variety of investigations. The 3D scanner can protect the scene, and/or the thing, in digital format extra precisely than the mixture of diagrams, maps, and/or pictures, which has up till just lately been the usual. 3D scanner know-how permits for speedy 360-degree documentation of scenes, autos, or machines. Typical scan occasions (varies relying on the chosen scanner settings) are below 10 minutes per scan and are reducing as know-how advances. When documenting with a 3D scanner, little goes unnoticed. The pace and accuracy of the know-how is continually enhancing, and the time required on website whereas capturing extra detailed measurements is reducing. Whereas that is vital in static conditions (saved proof, open roadway, and many others.), it’s much more vital within the scene investigation when the state of affairs remains to be probably dynamic, and time is of the essence.

The accuracy of a 3D scanner offers the person with complete information that’s not remoted to a specific level however is on the market for any space scanned. This assures that on the day of, the day after, or a yr after the incident, the size and visual circumstances of the placement, buildings, and objects are preserved. Examples of which might be a roadway with short-term development closures, or a constructing with fireplace or structural injury. In these two conditions, the places will change, but with a 3D scan, a visible and measurable copy of the standing of the placement could be saved indefinitely to offer element and workable information sooner or later if required.


Inset is the illustration of a scanned automobile (Picture 1). Every pixel you see is a three-dimensional level of knowledge. With greater than 50 million factors of knowledge, documenting injury to a automobile is easy. The quantity of knowledge additionally offers further choices for compelling demonstrative aids.

Excessive-Definition Drones

Drones are beginning to play a major position in forensic engineering. Drone platforms geared up with 4K cameras permit for unprecedented video and photographic documentation of energetic or older crash websites, fireplace scenes, constructing inspections, and full documentation of autos (Picture 2). As with the 3D scanner, documentation utilizing a drone platform is fast and thorough, offering a variety of views from chook’s-eye to even a first-person human perspective. For bigger areas, the drone will have the ability to present a faster scan of the world in query than that of a typical 3D scanner. The drone additionally has the flexibility to offer information from a extra elevated place which could be required in some investigations.

Video and pictures from a drone platform are captured in excessive decision digital codecs. These high-resolution photos, mixed with floor targets, reference measurements, or scanner information, can be utilized to acquire correct measurements. The distinctive high quality of the pictures permits for the usage of Photomodeler or different evaluation software program.

One other use of drone video is animations. Video shot utilizing the drone could be mixed with forensic animations to function demonstrative aids for mediation or trial.

Sprint Cams / Surveillance Video Evaluation

Sprint cameras and video surveillance have gotten extra frequent because the applied sciences turn into cheaper and extra accessible. Sprint cams are being utilized in giant industrial fleets, RVs, and personal autos. Many occasions, the presentation of the sprint cam video could also be all that’s essential to carry a case or declare to a detailed. However in most situations, the video captured by the digital camera is used to accumulate extra correct dimensional and pace information for the reconstruction of a automobile accident. The sprint cam or surveillance video can be used to refute, verify, or make clear witness accounts.

Surveillance video additionally provides the chance to acquire further details about an accident or occasion. Newer safety cameras are capturing occasions in HD format. The high-resolution video provides elevated accuracy throughout the evaluation. In a crash scene involving an intersection, it may present info as to visitors sign mild phasing on the time of the collision and actual location of the concerned autos. In a fireplace investigation, it may help in offering space of origin and in some instances, trigger.

Evaluation of sprint digital camera and safety video is advancing, too. Now software program, used initially within the film trade, is getting used to research video for pace and distance information. This software program, mixed with documentation of the scene and autos, can result in very correct evaluation and reconstruction of accidents and fireplace growth.

One instance of this know-how is SynthEyes, which offers engineers with intensive instruments to acquire related information from sprint cams or surveillance video footage. Inset is a pattern of the SynthEyes know-how being utilized to a touch cam video of an incident (Picture 3).

BERLA iVe Automobile System Forensics

New applied sciences developed by BERLA and their iVe Automobile System Forensics offers us the flexibility to accumulate the data saved in many more recent autos that may embrace historic location, system operational information (onerous acceleration, onerous braking, gear shifts, wheel pace, and many others.), linked gadgets and in the event that they have been in use, time stamps, geo-data, and far more information that’s captured by the automobile. In contrast to an EDR that requires an occasion to retailer pre and post-crash information, that is info that’s continually being saved within the automobile’s infotainment and telematics methods. Acquiring this information can present perception into the motive force’s actions main as much as the crash, to incorporate the second of the crash. Within the occasion of successful and run, the information can present if that automobile was within the space of the crash at that particular time and date. Moreover, the information may present whether or not any gadgets linked to the infotainment system have been in use on the time of the collision.

Relying on the information accessible within the automobile of curiosity, the data obtained can help in growing the accuracy of a reconstruction. It will possibly additionally help in potential claims of distracted driving resulting in a collision. The data may present perception into the driving conduct main as much as and together with the collision. Within the case of bicycle and pedestrian collisions the place there isn’t a occasion recorded by the EDR because of a delta V that’s too small to report an occasion, automobile methods and site info, which is continually being recorded, can present helpful info for the reconstruction.


Right now, it’s all about having the most recent and biggest know-how. As engineers and investigators, we share that sentiment, however we additionally perceive that the tip results of our work is to teach and clarify. What makes these applied sciences so vital will not be solely the excellent information they provide, however the number of approaches they provide as nicely. With 3D scanner or HD drone information comes the flexibility to decide on the extent of sophistication the skilled elects to current throughout a case. In different phrases, it’s doable to tailor the strategy to the viewers and the case. For instance, it might be finest to make use of 2D line drawings of the scene and autos introduced on easels for the jury. Moreover, a 3D picture/mannequin may present completely different views of the identical scene, and the presenter may change the point-of-view on demand. The 3D information of the scene and autos may additional be used to render an animation and nonetheless photos that specify an accident reconstruction, how a specific machine operates, or how a fireplace develops. An alternative choice could be to make use of the information to 3D print a scaled mannequin of the scene, automobile, constructing, or machine (Picture 4). This technique permits for hands-on demonstrations and rationalization of research. On the subject of “present and inform,” exhibiting usually trumps explaining.


Superior know-how is in all places, and the court docket room isn’t any exception. Utilizing superior know-how from the beginning of an investigation is predicted by most jury members. 3D Scanning, 4K drone flights, superior video evaluation software program, and automobile infotainment and telematics information are on the vanguard of superior know-how in proof preservation and accident evaluation.

Utilizing superior know-how provides extra info and choices for the evaluation and for the presentation of case points. Extra info and choices may profit the decision-making course of on find out how to deal with a declare or case.


We wish to thank Jonathan Wolgemuth and Chris Stewart, PE for offering perception and experience that significantly assisted on this analysis.

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