"Intelligent Sensor Platforms for Remotely Piloted Vehicles" Research Project Funded in Newfoundland
St. John’s-based Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science is launching a five-year project, “Intelligent Sensor Platforms for Remotely Piloted Vehicles”, to develop intelligent sensor systems to support autonomous decision-making and the operation of unmanned vehicles.
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s Atlantic Innovation Fund is investing $2.2 million and the Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador is investing $723,750, which complements funding from The Boeing Corporation to Memorial University for research on autonomous systems. The estimated project costs are $3.6 million.
New specialized R&D tools and scientific equipment will be purchased for the creation of the Mechatronic Development and Prototyping Facility at the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. Mechatronics is the integration of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering to improve the design and functionality of intelligent systems and products.
“We are looking at developing active vision systems for unmanned aerial vehicles,” explains Dr. Nicholas Krouglicof, Associate Professor at Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “These are systems that can actively direct the camera at a region of interest.” A parallel research effort will focus on the development of an underwater 3D vision system. A camera will be used in conjunction with a laser scanner to selectively take 3D measurements for applications such as pipeline inspection and monitoring, and navigation.
Dr. Ralf Bachmeyer, Canada Research Chair in Ocean Technology and Director of the Autonomous Underwater Vehicles Lab at Memorial University, will be collaborating on the underwater sensor development. This will enable gauging the vehicle’s distance from the seafloor and maintaining a fixed distance from it.
The project aims to achieve high reliability, low power consumption, and real-time performance through the integrating of image sensing, acquisition, and processing within a single robust enclosure.
The Mechatronic Development and Prototyping Facility, which is set to open in late 2011, will be a key component supporting collaborative R&D between Memorial University and The Boeing Company. It will also serve the specialized needs of researchers and other industrial partners whose focus is Autonomous Unmanned Vehicles.