PROWL: Perception for Robotic Operation Without Light
At TRACLabs Inc., we believe that commercially-viable, nighttime sensing of the local 3D terrain is achievable in the near-term by careful selection and integration of sensing hardware and intelligent perception algorithms. Yet, multiple important research items do exist. Our Phase I aims are 1) to build a prototype sensor that synchronizes COTS thermal imagers into a stereo-camera head, 2) to demonstrate a PROWL prototype that produces a) stereo-based distance estimates, b) visual-odometry, and c) 3D maps in a controlled laboratory environment and 3) to provide an accurate assessment of the hardware and software extensions needed for the long-range Phase II system. For Phase II, we will extend our system 1) to enable outdoor 3D perception in natural low-light conditions and at driving speeds and 2) to provide 360 degree sensing. We will also focus on real-time driveability analysis from the 3D point clouds and on providing efficient, yet informative, 2.5D representations of the environment as part of the system's API. Long-term, we expect to integrate our system with specific unmanned military robots, including PackBot, Talon, ANDROS, and MULE platforms.
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