I'm trying to create a "map" of a factory for the purpose of navigation. Basically, given points A and B, what's the shortest distance between them without walking through a wall or knocking over a shelf or something?

In one sense, this is a straightforward graph theory problem that's not unlike finding a path in a maze or directions on an "ordinary" map. (The points are like houses and the aisles are like streets). There are obviously already several well-known algorithms (e.g. Dijkstra's Algorithm and the A* algorithm).

With that said, the difficult part of this is data capture. You could enter the data manually for each factory, but that's error-prone and tedious. It also scales poorly: what do you do if you have a large warehouse or factory, need to map a large number of warehouses, or have factories or warehouses that are periodically "re-configured"?

That being said, I'm particularly interested in a tool that can help to accelerate the process of data capture. It should either get the data in a format that's amenable to applying the A* algorithm or Dijkstra's Algorithm to it later or be able to find the shortest path between two points itself.

Can you use a standard GIS system for this? If so, which one(s) would be suitable for this purpose? Or would something else be a better choice?

A few constraints:

  • Free or (relatively) inexpensive would be preferable to make it easier to justify the expense.
  • Tools from a recognized vendor are preferable as well (or, at least, tools that are open source or where we can otherwise inspect the source code) so that I can convince IT to let me install it inside a corporate network.
  • Should preferably be quick to learn to use so that it saves a maximum amount of time.

Does anyone know where I can find a tool to do that?

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