Zebedee arose out of CSIRO's need to map a set of caves. "Nothing motivates researchers more than inconvenience. And carrying a large stick with a motor and a battery and a computer on a trolley and abseiling into a cave system was just not feasible," explained Elliot Duff, an expert in robotics at the Australian agency. This led him and his colleagues to develop a system that uses "human motion - or passive actuation - to drive the motor of the sensor, not a machine."
Zebedee uses the environment to calculate trajectory; the lidar becomes a trajectory sensor, comparing the trajectories of sets of features. The accuracy of the whole system is dependent both on the accuracy of the laser scanner and the feature-richness of the environment (e.g. mapping a long, featureless corridor or room is problematic).
Scan data is currently processed offline via Dropbox. "Our intention in future is to make it online real-time, so maps are actually created, too, whilst you're walking round the environment," said Duff. "That has applications for first responders, emergency services and security."