Hybrid Robotic Vision System (HyVis)

Award Information
Department of Homeland Security
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
1 R43 EB014145-01
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Five Focal LLC
P.O. Box 1109, Boulder, CO, 80306-1109
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Kenny Kubala
Business Contact:
Alan Baron
Research Institution:
Remotely operated robotic vehicles play a vital role in hazardous environments while keeping responding personnel safe. Critical applications supporting homeland security include assessment of suspected explosive emplacements, exploration of cross border tunnels filled with obstacles and traps, and searching indoor or enclosed areas for hostile human threats. While remotely operated robotic platforms undoubtedly keep personnel out of harm’s way, the weakest link between the teleoperator and the robot’s environment are inadequate and poorly designed vision systems. Currently deployed vision systems are compromised by opposing needs; high resolution imagery is critical for assessment and identification of threats, but within practical size, weight, power and cost constraints cannot have a wide field of view that enables improved situational awareness, obstacle avoidance and navigation. What is needed is a compact, low cost robotic vision system that delivers high resolution imagery simultaneously with panoramic imagery, and an intuitive operator vision interface that improves robotic task efficiency. FiveFocal proposes to overcome the weaknesses of existing vision systems with a Hybrid Robotic Vision System, HyVis, which includes an innovative optical design that enables digital image synthesis and leverages mass-produced commercial off the shelf (COTS) components to give a 360deg field of view with a 10x zoom channel that can be arbitrarily positioned within the larger field of view. This revolutionary imaging system will improve robotic teleoperator efficiency by providing a visual interface that allows dramatically improved situational awareness; a detailed zoom image is presented within the context of panoramic imagery. FiveFocal will leverage preliminary data to build a prototype imager and visualization interface, and validate that HyVis will greatly enhance robotic teleoperation by reducing operator workload, improving navigation, and enhancing threat discrimination. The specific aims are 1) show that the preliminary design can be adapted to the operating needs and constraints of typical robotic platforms, 2) demonstrate that a prototype imaging system providing simultaneous high resolution and panoramic imagery can improve teleoperation, and 3) develop a vision interface that reduces operator workload and increases mission efficiency. The FiveFocal management and R&D team has extensive experience developing vision systems for challenging applications including taking cell phone cameras from concept to mass production, designing military grade visible and IR solutions, as well as a 15 year proven track record of securing financial and commercial partners required to transition new optical technologies into commercial products. While the emphasis of this SBIR is the improvement of robotic teleoperation for explosive/human threat detection and cross border tunnel exploration, FiveFocal ultimately expects to transition this technology to diverse robotic applications in automotive, security, industrial and defense applications.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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