Automated Bullet-Identification System Based on Surface Topography Techniques

L. Blunt, W. Zeng, X. Jiang, S. Xiao, F. Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Every firearm has individual characteristics that are as unique to it as fingerprints are to human beings. When a firearm is fired, it transfers these characteristics - in the form of microscopic scratches and dents - to the fired bullets and cartridge casings. The rifling of the barrel of the firearm marks the bullets travelling through it, and the firearm's breech mechanism marks the ammunition's cartridge casing. Characterising these marks is the critical element in identifying firearms. Traditionally the comparison of ballistic evidence has been a tedious and time-consuming process requiring highly skilled examiners. In the past decade, engineers have created automated ballistics identification systems that meld traditional comparison microscopes with digital cameras, computers, huge databases, and image analysis techniques. This kind of system can help investigators to link crimes by automatically finding similarities among images of bullet but suffering significant drawbacks and minimal matching. More recently, approaches based on 3D digital representations of evidence surface topography have started to appear, both in research and industrial products. Potentially the introduction of 3D surface topography measurement can overcome the limitations of digital imaging systems by making the bullet surface measurement reproducible and reliable. A 3D quantitative approach for bullet identification is proposed in this paper. In this system the surface topography of the whole bullet can be acquired for analysis and identification. Primary researches have been done by applying advanced surface topography techniques for bullet marks' characteristics extraction. A variety of 2D and 3D visualization graphics have also been provided to help firearm examiners to make final decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-522
Number of pages5
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2009


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