Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quanser R&D Helps Enhance Safety in Conflict Zones

One of the most sensitive and important areas addressed by robotics research and development is in applications designed to reduce human risk in conflict situations, specifically the risk related to defending against the use of improvised explosive devices (IED). One mitigation strategy is smart robotics development employing stand-off detectors to permit surveillance and protection of vital points and key personnel.

The value of multi-disciplinary experience
Quanser has been chosen as a part of a Collaborative Research and Technology Initiative (CRTI) to complete a project on telerobotic IED neutralization. This project addresses substantial telerobotic-based improvements in a number of areas, including (i) responder performance through an integrated response and remote monitoring platform, (ii) pre- and post- blast investigations involving sample analysis and data collection, (iii) management with no manual input, and (iv) medical triage in hazard situations.

The potential to be remarkably effective
Quanser has been conducting research in the areas of haptics and telepresence as well as unmanned vehicles systems (UVS) control for several years. The introduction of haptics has the potential to shift the way all telepresence systems work for first responders. At the same time, the immersive telepresence capability allows for greater surveillance of vital points and key personnel.

The research is well underway
The research and development for the project have already started in various fields such as telerobotics, 3 D localization and mapping as well as unmanned vehicle control. As an initial step, a unilateral teleoperation setup is implemented between a Sensable's PHANTOM Omni and JACO arm by Kinova. The JACO arm was chosen for this project because of its light weight, being waterproof and silent, low power consumption and its high dexterity and reach.

Teleoperation setup with JACO Robot Arm and PHANTOM Omni device

Full joint-level open architecture access to the robotic arm is enabled through QUARC rapid prototyping software which can be used as a stand-alone research and teaching platform. Also, a realistic model of the arm is presented in QUARC visualization in order to test and implement various controllers.

Next steps include the design and implementation of bilateral and multilateral teleoperation using more than one JACO arms to perform a multi-arm teleoperation scheme. The project outcomes will improve preparedness, prevention, and response by alllowing first responders to stand back, investigate and neutralize dangerous situations.

Many applications will benefit from the developed technology, including medical robotics, micro assembly, remote hazardous material handling, resource exploration, sovereign arctic surveillance, and space explorations.

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