This project will support the development of intelligent sensor systems to support autonomous decision- making/operation of unmanned vehicles. The focus is unmanned aerial vehicles but the sensor systems are also applicable to ground robots and unmanned underwater and ocean surface vehicles. The systems will meet the needs of industries, which require monitoring in marine, harsh, or remote environments, as well as those engaged in surveillance and security applications.
The project will focus on the development of intelligent sensor systems including cameras and laser scanners that satisfy the real-world constraints associated with deployment on an autonomous or remotely piloted vehicle. The objective is to achieve high reliability, low power consumption and real-time performance through integrating image sensing, acquisition, and processing within a single robust enclosure. For detecting targets in large unconstrained environments, a two-tiered approach is planned whereby an omni-directional camera actively directs a high-resolution image sensor or laser scanner towards potential areas of interest. This 'active vision' system will employ a novel linear actuator that offers unprecedented speed and accuracy in a small package. A parallel research effort will focus on the development of an underwater 3D vision system that provides high dimensional accuracy for underwater inspection or marine structures and biological observation.