Sunday, November 27, 2005

crazy camera

For the first time in my PhD, I am in at uni on a Sunday to do work. It took 7 months, but here I am. Obviously not something I want to make a habbit of, but another deadline is looming, and the weather is pretty crap anyway.

The work I am doing is actually pretty interesting. After about 12 months of just writing about stuff I've already done, I am actually starting to do new stuff. The most exciting thing is that I have just gained access to our research labs latest robot, officially to be called "NECTA" (unofficially called burpbot), which has been specifically built for the research that I will be doing in my PhD. I won't go into the details, except to say that I am interested in mimicking the navigational strategies of insects (particularly bees). If you really wanna know, you can read all about it here.

Apart from a new robot, I also have access to a funky new pair of cameras. These cameras are not your average, run of the mill digital cameras though. Each one has a viewing field 190 degrees (so it can, in fact, see behind itself!). The idea is to have a pair of these cameras mounted on the robot, facing forward but each significantly angled away from the direction of motion (i.e. like a bees eyes). The cameras will also be mounted on a lift platform, so that we can move them up and down. The robot itself has what we call omni-directional wheels, which essentially means it can move in any direction (not just forward and back like a car, but in any direction, like a shopping trolley). Maybe its just easier to show a photo:

This is the base drive system of the robot. Obviously other stuff goes on top of this:

Combining this motion, and the up and down motion of the camera allows us to move the camera in any 3 dimensional direction, so we can make the camera fly like a bee :)

The robot has been designed and built by Luke Cole, who is involved in a number of robotics projects for ANU, CSIRO among other personal projects.

Anyway, enough boring detail. I have just spent my entire Sunday afternoon getting my program code to work with the new cameras. I still have a long way to go, but I can now at least take happy snaps with the new camera .. like these:

If only they gave PhD's for stupid photos!


Anonymous Mands said...

Most interesting. I also think these cameras could have a more general use within the community. I was recently chatting with a group of guys about their (self identified) inability to look sideways at an object (i.e., a woman) without actually turning their head in an ogling manner. To my knowledge women are not afflicted by this and are able to look straight ahead while identifying potential items of interest at say, 3 o'clock or 9 o'clock. If we could market these cameras to attach to glasses or something, it could be a very useful (and profitable) thing indeed...

11/28/2005 02:15:00 PM

Anonymous Rob M said...

Looks like the base of a RoboCup small league bot... is that part of your evil plan?

11/28/2005 04:35:00 PM

Blogger macca said...

Mands - I think you're on to something! Unfortunately, in the very male dominated confines of our robotics lab, such potential is unlikely to be realised.

Rob - yes, the omni-wheel base is very much based on the robotcup robot's we designed in Melbourne (but has four wheels, rather than three). It should be a very nice platform to work with.

12/05/2005 10:45:00 AM


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