Since the early 1990's, the idea of automated systems for the comparison of microscopic firearms evidence has received considerable attention. The main objective of such systems is to enable the analysis of large amounts of evidence, therefore, transforming the comparison of firearms evidence from an evidence verification tool into a crime-fighting tool. Two such systems have been widely used in United States forensic laboratories; namely, the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) (1) and DRUGFIRE (2). Both IBIS and DRUGFIRE have in common the fact that their characterization of a specimen is based on a two-dimensional (2D) representation of the specimen's surface.
Although these systems have provided satisfactory results in the identification of cartridge cases, their performance in the identification of bullets has not yet met firearms examiner's expectations. This project was motivated by the premise that a better characterizations of the bullet's surface should translate into better performance of automated identification systems. A three-dimensional (3D) characterization of the bullet's surface is proposed as an alternative to a 2D characterization. This paper discusses the development and preliminary results obtained with SCICLOPS™, an automated microscopic comparison system based on the use of a 3D characterization of a bullet's surface.
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