The autonomous, noncontact creation of virtual environments from existing, real environments is described. The technique uses structured light to provide direct estimation of 3D surface patch parameters. Active (laser) cameras are used to determine 3D object models, and passive camera images are used to generate color and texture. This process, termed virtualization, has immediate application to providing telepresence in previously unmodeled or unstructured environments. An example of the process is shown and directions for future research are indicated.