Design News, May 2013

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Source:European Space Agency/Anneke Le Floc'h News A free iPhone video game app turns your Parrot AR.Drone into a simulated spacecraft, which you can use to simulate docking on the International Space Station. You get points for accuracy and speed, and the European Space Agency gets tons of data to help make better space robots. robots can learn to accurately estimate distances merely by looking at still images. Players put an augmented-reality marker on a feature in physical reality, to indicate that this object represents the Space Station's docking port. They then try to dock the AR.Drone on an image of the Space Station's port as fast as possible, but also carefully and accurately. Players can win extra points for docking the drone with the correct orientation, as well as for achieving a lowspeed final approach. Partial image data, which the team calls Speeded Up Partial Features (SURF), is identified by the team's OpenSURF algorithm. This algorithm identifies objects with specific image sizes and their orientations. The identification of an object's size, shape, and orientation, and the extraction of such partial data from a still image, sounds very much like sophisticated industrial machine vision software used in object recognition and defect detection. On the player's iPhone, SURFs are extracted from a sequence of still images using Willow Garage's OpenCV. Players then send this data, along with information about the robot's height, attitude angles, velocities, and other data about its state, to a central database. Also, as players log their game scores on the app's high-score table, they can send their performance data. All of this input is anonymous: no GPS data or raw video images are sent. The only data players send is the abstracted mathematical features of images that the drone sees and uses for navigation, as well as velocity readings. The AR.Drone 2.0, which can be controlled by an iPad or iPhone, carries a lot of hardware to make the project possible, including two different cameras: a 30-fps HD 720p with a 92-degree wide-angle lens, and a 60 fps vertical QVGA for measuring ground speed. Its embedded 1-GHz 32-bit ARM Cortex A8 CPU has 800 MHz video DSP and runs Linux 2.6.32. Memory is 1Gbit of 200-MHz DDR-2 RAM. Sensors include a 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis gyroscope, a 3-axis magnetometer, and ultrasound sensors for measuring ground altitude. With about 500,000 AR.Drone quadricopters in gamers' hands, the ESA team hopes using high numbers of players and multiple inputs will help the researchers develop spacecraft that are autonomous and can independently, and correctly, dock and land themselves. The key to this is creating a database of SURFs for objects with standard sizes, combined with a set of corresponding distances. From this information, algorithms can be developed that accurately extract distances from images once an object and its features are identified in the database. Force without Friction–forever. A pneumatic actuator using a unique air bearing piston that can be cycled virtually * infinitely, the Airpel-AB will outlast any machine you put it in. We can guarantee it. Imagine positioning, tensioning, counterbalancing, or clamping — all force controlled with perfect precision. Learn more at Airpel-AB ® MADE IN USA Force *The fine print: Just use in accordance with handling and installation guidelines. Without Friction ® Airpot Corp, Airpel Division (800) 848-7681 Airpel-AB® & Force Without Friction® are registered trademarks of Airpot Corporation. Design News | MAY 2013 | www.d e sig n n e ws.c o m –30– magenta cyan yellow black ES247123_DN1305_030.pgs 05.06.2013 22:59 UBM

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