In a move that looks like it was pulled straight from Schwarzenegger’s Terminator movie, Perth-based Strategic Elements has kicked off the next-generation development of its driverless robotic security vehicles. The ASX-listed company is now looking to jam-pack the machines with “human-like” sensory features that will allow them to be more intuitive and better perceive the immediate environment around them.
Strategic says it is about to start the process of integrating what it refers to as a “sensor fusion stack” into the autonomous robotic security vehicle, or “ASV” that is capable of autonomously patrolling the perimeter of a secure facility.
According to the company, the sensor fusion stack will take its robotic vehicles to the next level by incorporating an important upgrade to the design of the on-board autonomous systems via a complex assortment of sensors and real-time software that will provide for localised processing of raw sensor data.
The fusion stack will include additional sensors such as LiDAR, radar, GPS, sonar, thermal imaging and different types of cameras, with each sensor delivering different strengths to the fusion data generated.
Interestingly, Strategic says the sensor fusion stack will arm the vehicles with more advanced sensory capabilities than human security guards, significantly bolstering their patrol and surveillance functionality.
In our view, the sensor fusion stack is just the start of showing how we can add advanced intelligence into our mobile robotics platform.
Sensor fusion combines data inputs from multiple sensors in real time to create an accurate picture of a local environment, balancing the strengths and weaknesses of the different sensors.
The company says the vehicles will be able to use sensor fusion for higher-level tasks such as understanding planning and interacting autonomously with their surroundings. For example, in addition to detecting a human, the system will be able to interpret why they may be there and what they are doing.
Strategic describes sensor fusion as the ultimate form of sensor integration, bringing together multiple sensor technologies in a single application. It makes new applications possible by facilitating more difficult detections that are not possible with any single sensor.
The LiDAR, radar and thermal imaging can even surveil in the dark when cameras and humans cannot. The vehicles will also be able “see” around corners and from an elevated position, focus with a much longer range and apply greater attention to detail than human security guards, according to the management.
Development and sensor placement and the integration of the sensor fusion stack with the company’s operating system and real-time software will likely take two to three months says Strategic, who expects to conduct live trials of the new-generation ASVs prior to mid-year.
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