Bio-Inspired Visual Navigation: From Landmarks via Bearing to Controls

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Army
Contract: W56HZV-14-C-0060
Agency Tracking Number: A2-5516
Amount: $750,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: A12a-T030
Solicitation Number: 2012.1
Solicitation Year: 2012
Award Year: 2014
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2014-01-31
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2014-12-17
Small Business Information
15400 Calhoun Drive Suite 400, Rockville, MD, 20855
DUNS: 000000000
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: Y
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 David Handelman
 (301) 294-4252
Business Contact
 Mark James
Title: Director, Contracts and Proposals
Phone: (301) 294-5221
Research Institution
 University of Pennsylvania
 W. S Stuart Watson
 3330 Walnut Street, Levine hal
Philadelphia, PA, 19104
 (215) 573-6707
 Nonprofit college or university
The proposed Bio-Inspired Visual Navigation System will enable UGVs to operate semi-autonomously with minimal input from an operator even in degraded communication environments. Semi-autonomous landmark-based navigation in low-texture indoor environments is difficult due to the lack of distinctive micro-features needed by conventional algorithms such as SIFT and SURF. In Phase I, Intelligent Automation, Inc. (IAI) and the GRASP Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania demonstrated the feasibility of a novel solution comprising three main innovations. First, a fixation-based segmentation method is used to extract landmarks which are closed contours in the image and can be detected even in texture-less environments. All salient landmarks are automatically detected and tracked robustly under viewpoint and scale change. Second, landmarks are used as visual guides for bearing-based control of the robot to its destination. Third, an operator control unit (OCU) provides enhanced situational awareness and intuitive interaction between the operator and UGV. In Phase II, we will develop an integrated prototype and demonstrate system capabilities in a wide range of environments including inside buildings and tunnels. The system will be field tested on QinetiQ North Americas Tactical Robot Controller (TRC) and a TALON or Dragon Runner UGV.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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