NASA 1996 SBIR Phase I


PROPOSAL NUMBER : 96-1 05.01-0610

PROJECT TITLE : Two degree-of-Freedom Spherical Pointing Actuator

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)

Amherst Systems proposes the development of a low-cost high performance miniature two degree-of-freedom (DOF) pan-tilt pointing mechanism for mobile robot active vision. Conventional pan-tilt mechanisms consist of coupled 1-DOF motors whose kinematics chain imposes large payload requirements for weight (several pounds), torque (up to tens of foot-pounds), and power (several hundred watts) that are impractical in small mobile platform applications. The proposed system is a spherical pointing actuator (SPA) that reduces the kinematics chain and payload requirements by integrating both degrees of freedom into one rotary actuator. The SPA is uniquely suited for applications requiring accurate, rapid (500 /sec), wide angle excursion (90 ) pointing of small mass (tens of grams) with little power (hundreds of milliamps, 10W) 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, which supports a visual sensor gazing out the circuit's open base. This design features wider excursion and simpler control (damped dynamics, tendency to 0 gaze, no home position coil required) than spherical pointing motor designs that do not use magnetic circuitry. The SPA directly supports NASA rover and extravehicular programs.
POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS
The proposed system's efficient gazing 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 with 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 fabrications procedures assure commercial feasibility.
NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR
NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR
Amherst Systems Inc.
30 Wilson Road
Buffalo, New York 14221-7082