Applications and system hardware are described for a new comparative topographic spatial mapping device. The device will remotely, automatically, and non-destructively measure any specified surface. A unique optical method, generates a well-defined orthogonal array of individual laser beams. Variable adjustment of beam pattern spatial frequency permits either wide-angle coverage of large-sized objects or high resolution capability for detailed areas. A novel programmable electro-optic filtering system encodes the beam array. A synchronized electro-optic selective wavelength scene capture system decodes and stores scene data in real-time in ambient light. The hardware described interfaces with suitable algorithms for the rapid calculation of the three-dimensional coordinates of sample points which mathematically define the surface of an object. The derived spatial coordinates of surface sample points then form a data base for numerically-controlled fabrication machines. A completely automated real-time scene acquisition and analysis capability could lead to machine interactive systems for pattern recognition, casting or mold comparisons, vector analysis of dimensional changes, and servo-controlled robot vision applications. The device can be ruggedly configured for use in surgical operatories, hazardous industries, outdoor inspection, etc.