SBIR Phase I: Spherical Pointing Actuator

Project: Research project

Project Details


This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a high speed, high accuracy pointing mechanism for active machine vision systems. Space system applications place demanding spatial and temporal resolution, and wide field-of-view (FOV) requirements on machine vision. Foveal active vision features imaging sensors and signal processing with graded acuity, coupled with context sensitive sensor gaze control, analogous to that prevalent throughout vertebrate vision. Foveal systems operate more efficiently than uniform acuity systems because resolution is treated as a dynamically allocatable resource. Wide FOV and localized high acuity are simultaneously supported while limiting sensor data to that which is relevant. The development of high performance foveal systems is hampered by the need for pan-tilt pointing mechanisms, which must be faster and more accurate than those used in uniform acuity active vision. This program will investigate two novel designs for servo pointing actuators that implement pan-tilt motion using orthogonal torsional magnetic fields; they act simultaneously on the foveal imager. One of these approaches uses two crossing coils surrounding the sensor, and the other uses two non-overlapping coil ring pairs that bracket the sensor. The performance of these two approaches will be evaluated experimentally, and control strategies that minimize settling time will be investigated. A controller implementing the most promising strategy on the most promising actuator design will e built and tested. The actuators will be faster and feature an order of magnitude less size, weight, and power requirements than conventional motion-on-motion pan-tilt mechanisms (cascaded turntables). They will also feature better settling time and calibration than other multi-axis electromagnetic configurations. Foveal systems offer space vision systems improved performance at lower system cost. They interrogate targets with high resolution to reduce classification errors, while supporting a wide FOV that improves multi-target detection and tracking. Foveal systems feature orders of magnitude less computational latency and hardware than conventional systems with the same maximum resolution and FOV. The spherical pointing actuators developed under this program will maximize gazing performance and support other optical applications, including beam steering.
Effective start/end date5/1/9610/31/96


  • National Science Foundation: $74,542.00


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