CDS Lecture Series

Friday, February 7, 2003, 2:00 p.m.

Roman Kuc
Intelligent Sensors Laboratory
Department of Electrical Engineering
Yale University

Drive-by Sensing: Lessons Biology Can Teach Robots

Many biological sensing systems, such as humans and bats, scan their environment while moving, which we term drive-by sensing. This would be a desirable mode in robotics if sufficient information were acquired. This talk describes a novel scanning method motivated by acoustic flow to recognize objects directly from sonar. Right-angle corners and large-diameter cylinders form specular retro-reflectors that produce strong echoes whose features can be identified. A multi-point sonar produces a point process, temptingly analogous to biological action potentials, whose density encodes the echo amplitude. As an obliquely-oriented sonar beam passes over a retro-reflector, a sequence of strong echoes exhibits a pattern predicted by a forward model. A conventional Polaroid 6500 ranging module produces 5,000 sonar points in a drive-by scan of a hallway, which an algorithm converts into 6 corner locations. Directly recognizing objects from echoes extends sonar sensing from data acquisition to landmark identification for robot navigation.

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