Mechanical Engineering Faculty Research


An Automatic Self-installation and Calibration Method for a 3D Position Sensing System using Ultrasonics

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This work addresses 3D position sensing systems that estimate the location of a wave source by triangulating its position based on the time-of-flights (TOFs) to various receivers fixed to an inertial frame of reference. Typical applications of such systems are finding the location of the transmitter that may be fixed to an autonomously guided vehicle (AGV) operating in an enclosed work environment, a robot end-effector, or virtual reality environments. These environments constitute a large working volume, and the receivers have to be fixed in this environment and their locations known exactly. This is a major source of problems in the installation/calibration stage since the receivers are usually distributed in space and finding their exact location entails using a separate 3D calibrating device which may or may not be as accurate as the location system itself. This paper presents a method to use the system itself to set up an inertial frame of reference and find out the locations of the receivers within this frame by simply using an accurate ID positioning system, e.g. an accurate ruler or a simple distance measuring system that uses ultrasonic or infrared sensors. The method entails moving the transmitter to known locations on a single plane, and using the TOFs to estimate the location of the receivers. A typical application would be that an AGV carries a set of receivers to a hazardous environment such as a nuclear power plant, places the receivers arbitrarily, carries out the self-installation/calibration procedure, maps out the environment, and begins to function autonomously, the whole procedure being done without human intervention or supervision.

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Robotics and Autonomous Systems





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