In a recent Automation & Control feature article authored by manufacturing journalist, Thomas R. Cutler, “To understand the state of stereo vision-guided technology today, and where it is going in the future, it is essential to understand the history.”
One of the pioneers in this technology is Dr. Hans Moravec, interviewed commented, “I have worked in the area of stereoscopic 3D vision for mapping the environment of mobile robots for over thirty years. The basic idea of using multiple sets of stereoscopic cameras to allow a robot to see three-dimensionally in all directions was occasionally discussed in my circles in the 1980s, but cameras and image digitizers were very expensive at that time, and computer memories and speeds too small to handle so many images effectively.”
Commercial Application of Stereo Vision-Guided Technology
Moravec, founder and chief scientific officer of Seegrid, developed primary navigation sensors, stereo cameras that use global shutter CMOS imagers. Stereo cameras offer a number of benefits including: no moving parts, large sensing envelopes, low power consumption, non-radiating operation (stealth), and fast data capture rates. Stereo cameras also have a drawback: poor data output. This effectively prevents many firms from using CMOS imagers in an automation function. Moravec asserts his company has gained a significant competitive advantage by overcoming this limitation, through its well-developed software stack and set of manufacturing processes. Stereo vision-guided technology now achieves very high performance at low cost. The software stack includes: image capture synchronization, imaging control, image rectification, feature selection, feature matching, feature projection, ranging and communications.
A wide variety of materials handling systems exist today including conventional, human-operated forklifts, carousels, automated storage and retrieval systems, rail and wire vehicle systems and intelligent conveyors. The materials handling industry’s systems and operations are highly standardized globally. Materials handling equipment is sold into virtually all discrete process and service industry sectors, with the vast majority being found throughout construction, manufacturing, logistics, and service. Vision system robots provide the lowest cost of ownership compared to competing fixed navigation solutions.
Founded in 2003, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Seegrid Corporation (www.seegrid.com)