SBIR PHASE II: Two Degree-of-Freedom Spherical Pointing Actuator

Project: Research project

Project Details


*** 9704266 Bandera A key technical challenge to the commercialization of active vision for demanding avionics and robotics applications, and particularly to the commercialization of foveal machine vision, is the lack of a pointing mechanism featuring high speed, high accuracy, fast settling time, small size, small power consumption, and light weight. This Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project from Amherst Systems, Inc. will develop a low-cost, high performance, miniature two degree-of-freedom (DOF) pan-tilt pointing mechanism, called a spherical pointing actuator (SPA), that meets mobile robot active vision gazing requirements. This project will also develop a computer interface implementing open-loop and closed-loop control of the SPA. Conventional pan-tilt mechanisms couple I-DOF motors, and their kinematics chain imposes large weight (several pounds), torque (up to tens of foot-pounds), and power (several hundred watts) payload requirements that are impractical in small mobile platforms. The SPA reduces the kinematics chain and payload requirements by integrating both degrees of freedom into one rotary actuator. It provides accurate, rapid (1000 degrees/sec), wide, angle excursion (90 degrees) pointing of small mass (tens of grains) with little power (10 W) and space (on the order of one cubic inch). The SPA consists of four coils (two per DOF) mounted on the sides of a tetrahedral damped magnetic circuit that acts upon a gimbaled magnet; the magnet supports a visual sensor gazing out the circuit's open base. This design features wider excursion and simpler control (damped dynamics, inherent centering force, no home position coil required) than spherical pointing motor designs that do not use magnetic circuitry. The spherical pointing actuator (SPA) permits smaller and more reliable active vision systems for autonomous security, automatic target recognition, unmanned ground and air vehicles, commercial robots, smart weapons, and smart vehicles. An SPA combined wit h a foveal imager provides wide field-of-view to improve search, fast frame rate to improve tracking, and high localized acuity to improve recognition. Low-cost conventional components and fabrication procedures assure commercial feasibility. ***
Effective start/end date10/15/979/30/99


  • National Science Foundation: $299,970.00


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