Friday, June 14, 2019

2019-06-14: New VICON Cameras Take Our Robotic Arm to the Next Level

One of the two cameras built above the stage.

We are always more than happy to begin testing new gadgets and technology. With the arrival of six new VICONTM cameras for tracking and motion capture in our sub-scale robot area, Kyle McQuarry and Sherif Shazly have been working diligently to set them up so that we can improve our research and abilities with the beloved robotic arm.

One of the new VICONTM cameras sits in the wall behind the arm.

Kyle McQuarry cleaning up cords from the top right camera.

Along with the VICONTM cameras, we have also gained some new KinectTM sensors.  These are cameras that give you point-cloud images so that you can view a 3D representation of the world.  This is a huge advantage, as described by Sherif, because prior to adding them, they were essentially working off of assumptions and statistically publishing where they thought objects were in space, but now they can be even more precise.

Point-cloud information is already very accurate, but now the world frame would be even more accurate in the correct frame of reference.

These point-could images can also give you octree representations, in which the octomap takes dense information and filters it down into tiny boxes, as you can see below.  The areas that are colored green are mesh and the rainbow boxes are octrees.

The rainbow boxes are octrees.

"The VICONTM cameras haven't been added to the pipeline yet," Sherif explained, "but hopefully we can use them to give the position of the Kinect sensors to get centimeter accurate point-cloud information."

Once the VICONTM cameras begin to be used, they will need to be calibrated every single day.  They use a wand with retro-reflective tracking points lining it and wave it around until calibration is verified.  Then you place the wand in the origin position next to the robotic arm.

Our robotic arm and connect sensors are set up on a stage with the VICON
cameras around it.

Next week, we will be giving a demonstration for Roberta Ewart on how each aspect works together for In-Space Assembly.  It is more than exciting to be able to show it all off.

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