Omnidirectional stereo perception

Enhancing safety and efficiency in the factories of the future

The automation industry has the vision of introducing efficient, green and accident-free traffic based on effective environment perception systems. Together with its partners, VTT has developed the PAN-Robots Omnidirectional Stereo Camera, a novel, low-cost 3D sensor which provides additional safety in automated guided vehicles (AGVs). This new sensing solution enables the development of new automation and automotive safety applications and much more.

The goal was to design and realise a new prototype sensor capable of detecting hanging or protruding objects invisible to on-board safety laser scanners. For this task, a custom-designed and rugged high efficiency F/1.2 fisheye lens was designed with small size, low price and robustness in mind. The lens is made for factory conditions and has no moving parts, making it highly tolerant to vibrations and shocks. It can withstand vibrations up to 28 g RMS without damage or loss of performance. The resulting omnidirectional stereo camera consists of a downward-looking lens pair capable of detecting, identifying and tracking objects around the forklift. When this data is combined with the data from the existing laser scanners, the result is an entirely new safety level which we might call 3D enhanced 2D perception. This novel concept combines the camera system's identification capabilities with the precision of laser scanner technology. The integration of a number of optical functions into a complete safety system will mean lower costs, greater robustness and easier assembly.

VTT foresees other ways of benefiting from high-efficiency omnidirectional optics. Forthcoming technologies will help to optimise and increase safety in the industrial automation and automotive industry. Although a range of sensor-types is already in use in factory logistics, a huge market exists for new sensing solutions. 'Automatic Guided Vehicles (AVGs) used in factories today are still at an early stage of development. The companies using them get their Return of Investment quite soon, but these systems can be improved immeasurably by using on-board cameras, laser scanners and 3D mapping of facilities,' explains project coordinator Dr Kay Fürstenberg of German sensor company SICK AG in comments made to European Digital Agenda. You can read the full story here.

PAN-Robots 2.jpg 

Omnidirectional stereo camera with high-efficiency fish eye optics and measurement geometry – designed by VTT – for new 3D enhanced 2D perception, which combines stereo camera data (blue) with 2D laser scanner data (green)

The PAN-Robots Omnidirectional Stereo Camera was developed through close collaboration between research organisations and industrial partners and was funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme. 

More information:                   

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