Since the invention of vector graphics formats, there has been a desire to take existing raster images and translate them into vector-based drawings. The problem of vectorisation is a complex one with a number of interdependant variables which can significantly affect the quality of the vectorized output.
The open-source project Autotrace has been working towards providing a vectorisation solution for some years, and is capable of generation SVG images.
RO IT Systems has made a web interface to Autotrace available to the general public in march 2004. One of the benefits of this system is that a large user base (100 images per day) has been using the system, providing a glimpse into the capabilities and into the limits of vectorisation
The concept of information loss and the cumulative effects of noisiness, colour depth, line width variance, and geometry will be correlated to generate an operating envellope where machine vectorisation is feasible.