Jack, the article says the camera is movable, not removable. I think combining it with various object recognition/analysis software packages, as Rob suggests, might be an interesting idea, or chemical sniffers, as you mention. But the existing robot is designed primarily for on-the-spot human eyeball/brain inspection.
As we said in the article, the video is viewed by the operator using special glasses or a monitor. Alternately, it can be recorded or streamed to a remote location. Object recognition and analysis would most likely be a facet of vision analysis software, but I don't recall any being mentioned.
Good point, Jack, on both the chemical sniffer package as well as a database of car underbellies. Seems that would be within reach technically. That could offer a quick detection of something different in the picture.
The article suggested that the camera was removeable. Is that only for replacment or are there other options available, maybe like a chemical sniffer package with less advanced camera?
@Rob, that would be a good idea to pair the unit up with some high end matching systems. I could see in the future having a database of common vehicle undersides and then alert if somesomething doesn't match.
That explains a lot, Ann. Are these systems also programmed to recognize unusual objects as they make their scans? Do you know if devices like the Ferret feed their scans back to a centralized center where they can be viewed by experts with more knowledge than those in the field?
Rob, these are not consumer prices, since the cameras are much more capable than consumer products and they are designed for organizations needing computer vision, not snapshots. This--cost and capabilities--is especially true of the image sensors they contain. Also, consumers have gotten used to extremely cheap camera prices due to the price declines in CMOS image sensors. I'm pretty sure the Ferret costs less than the Panoscan since it is less capable. OTOH, it's digital, which means it uses CMOS image sensors, and the Ferret is CCD-based. Comparable CCD sensors usually cost more than CMOS sensors, but the two cameras must have very different sensor specs if one can do 360 and the other can (apparently) do 90 degrees.
mrdon, that sounds like a really good app for this robot. But I wonder how much it costs. Some quick Googling didn't turn up any prices for the Ferret, but the much more capable 360-degree Panoscan cameras made by General Robotics' parent company go for about $40,000 each.
Hi Ann, In addition to vehicle security surveillance, I see this robot being useful for mobile auto mechanics who need to check the underbody of an automobile for leaks, or holes caused by rust in mufflers. What a great tool as well as article! Speaking of iRobot, here's the link to their Creater robot kit for any interested in tinkering with mobile robots. http://store.irobot.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=2591511&s=A-ProductAge
Chuck, iRobot makes the Roomba for vacuuming, with a very similar shape, hence my reference. There are various small robots that do surveillance, but I don't recall any of them shaped like the Roomba or the Ferret. Let us know if you find one.
During a teardown of the iPad Air and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 at the Medical Design & Manufacturing Show in Schaumburg, Ill., an engineer showed this "inflammatory" video about the dangers of maliciously mishandling lithium-ion batteries.
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.