The proposed effort is to develop a versatile, high-definition (HD) 3D camera that provides in real time high-resolution image and distance data over a large angle for monitoring human activity from a free-flying robot platform. The objective is to build a compact sensor payload package that is compatible with the Astrobee free-flying robot, which includes meeting size, weight, power and communication requirements.
The 3D sensor will provide better than 1 cm by 1 cm spatial resolution with less than 1% range error over an operating distance of 10 meters. This 3D resolution is provided over a 50-degree by 41-degree field of regard using a unique electro-optic step and stare scanner. The sensing and operating capability provided will allow the system to track fast moving objects, operate from a moving platform without image blur, collect high contrast data, function without interference from other ToF sensors operating in same vicinity and conserve power and minimize processing when the situation or application needs less data throughput.
The proposed low-SWaP HD 3D imager will have application in many NASA missions needing real-time 3D information such as fixing and refueling spacecraft, autonomous vision-based navigation for robotic systems, internal/external spacecraft inspection, 3D environmental mapping and hazard avoidance for planetary rovers, free-flying robots and terrestrial drones.
The proposed HD 3D imager has various commercial applications. The platform can provide a low-SWaP package for hazard/collision avoidance for autonomous automobiles and unmanned vehicles. Other potential large markets are 3D imaging for autonomous robotics (factory automation), remote 3D scanning and gesture recognition for augmented reality systems.