The proposed effort is to develop a low power/mass vision system that provides in real-time high-resolution (HR) three-dimensional (3D) data over wide angles for quickly detecting hazards and obstacles in the path of planetary rovers. The objective is to build a compact camera package that meets the low size, weight, and power (SWaP) requirements of the application. The 3D sensor will provide better than 0.4 milliradian resolution over a 96-degree by 80-degree field of regard and better than 2.5 cm distance accuracy at 3.75 meters with distance accuracy improving at shorter ranges. This 3D imaging capability is achieved using a unique electro-optic step and stare scanner that provides the largest angle-aperture product of any non-mechanical scanning technology.
The proposed low-SWaP HR 3D vision system will have application in NASA missions needing real-time 3D information such as fixing and refueling spacecraft, autonomous vision-based guidance and control for robotic systems, internal/external spacecraft inspection, 3D environmental mapping and hazard avoidance for autonomous land, air, and sea vehicles. Also, a low-SWaP gimbal replacement would be useful for other space-borne applications including active remote sensing and satellite-to-satellite communications.
Commercial applications include hazard/collision avoidance for autonomous automobiles and unmanned vehicles such as drones. Other potential large markets are 3D imaging for factory automation, noncontact structure analysis, topographical mapping, and gesture recognition for augmented reality systems. Additionally, the scanner technology is being deployed on lidars for wind turbine control.