The use of laser light and vision systems for the identification of seams to be welded is discussed. Systems are described which are compact and allow access to remote locations by using coherent fibre optic bundles. Present computing speeds allow simple structures to be identified within the time (~20ms) required to capture a frame. Future developments are discussed and are limited to the enhancement of the computing power especially by use of the transputer. This will allow very complex structures to be analysed as well as real time adaptive control to be introduced for the faster welding processes. The role of expert systems will become important to check and maintain weld quality.