Geo Week News

May 16, 2012

Making those flying robots work better


The folks at Fraunhofer are at it again, releasing word this week they’ve developed a CMOS sensor that allows for 3D data to rapidly be consumed and transmitted, which can, for example, enable flocks of flying 3D robots work autonomously. 

This part was enough to catch my attention:

Fraunhofer’s CMOS device integrated into a TriDiCam camera.

A CMOS sensor developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS in Duisburg lies at the heart of the anti-collision technology. “The sensor can measure three-dimensional distances very efficiently,” says Werner Brockherde, head of the development department. Just as in a black and white camera, every pixel on the sensor is given a gray value. “But on top of that,” he explains, “each pixel is also assigned a distance value.” This enables the drones to accurately determine their position in relation to other objects around them.

Seems like that could be useful. I’m not sure exactly whether it works in low- or no-light situations, but it is emitting a pulse that’s bouncing back so maybe it has the same advantages of lidar, and there are, regardless, still plenty of applications for airborne vehicles that can not only self-navigate, but also create 3D maps on the fly when they’ve got a little light to work with.

Disaster relief situations are a no-brainer, but so are just about any situations where security is paramount, time for deployment of the security system is limited, and there’s a large crowd involved, like presidential appearances or major sporting events. Having dynamic surveillance, essentially automated security guards, could be hugely useful, but so could the ability to rapidly capture a 3D map of a relatively large area if you don’t need accuracy down to the centimeters. Heck, you could probably even use these things indoors and outdoors at the same time, making a combination 3D model. 

Want to check the tech out for yourself? Check the Fraunhofer CMOS Imaging Workshop in Duisburg on June 12 and 13 this year.

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