Patents Assigned to Transitions Research Corporation
  • Patent number: 5103306
    Abstract: Video image compression apparatus and method provides full color, wide field of view, real time imagery having high central resolution. Compression ratios of 1600:1 are achieved thus reducing a required data transmission bandwidth sufficiently to abolish line-of-sight restrictions. Data compression apparatus and method (a) uses a log polar mapper to match the image display to human perceptual resolution to achieve a 25:1 compression ratio with no loss of perceived cues, (b) separates perceptual channels into low resolution, high discrimination level color and high resolution, low discrimination level contrast edges to yield an additional 8:1 compression ratio and (c) applies a data compression technique to yield an additional 8:1 compression ratio. A Gaussian filter is employed in generating a display of the imagery from the compressed data. An operator is provided a capability to rapidly move the high resolution window to any point of interest within the display.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 28, 1990
    Date of Patent: April 7, 1992
    Assignee: Transitions Research Corporation
    Inventors: Carl F. R. Weiman, John M. Evans, Jr.
  • Patent number: 5063604
    Abstract: Image processing method and apparatus wherein candidate points are first selected in a log-polar image domain. The points may be selected by edge detection, thresholding, or any method suitable for identifying image points which are likely to lie on some feature of interest. For every candidate point there is drawn, also in the log-polar domain, a mirror image of a curve that represents the log-polar image of a straight line. There is accumulated a log-polar domain histogram of "hits" from the drawing process. Finally, a peak bin is selected. The position of the peak bin corresponds to the position of the recognized line.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 8, 1989
    Date of Patent: November 5, 1991
    Assignee: Transitions Research Corporation
    Inventor: Carl F. R. Weiman
  • Patent number: 5051906
    Abstract: Apparatus and method which provides for the determination of a vehicle's orientation and position in an environment, such as a hallway, from an image of a retroreflective ceiling feature. A mobile robot 10 includes a light source 28 and a camera 12 that are pitched up obliquely at an intermediate angle between a horizon and a zenith. The camera views a ceiling having one or more strip-like retroreflective features 16 which are preferably aligned with an axis of the hallway. In that the feature presents a pattern or alignment which is substantially parallel to a long axis of the hallway the pattern is detected and processed to derive robot navigation information therefrom.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 7, 1989
    Date of Patent: September 24, 1991
    Assignee: Transitions Research Corporation
    Inventors: John M. Evans, Jr., Steven J. King, Carl F. R. Weiman
  • Patent number: 5040116
    Abstract: A vision system for a vehicle, such as a mobile robot (10) includes at least one radiation projector (14, 16) which projects a structured beam of radiation into the robot's environment. The structured beam of radiation (14a, 16a) preferably has a substantially planar pattern of sufficient width to encompass the immediate forward path of the robot and also to encompass laterally disposed areas in order to permit turning adjustments. The vision system further includes an imaging (12) sensor such as a CCD imaging device having a two-dimensional field of view which encompasses the immediate forward path of the robot. An image sensor processor (18) includes an image memory (18A) coupled to a device (18D) which is operable for accessing the image memory. Image processing is accomplished in part by triangulating the stored image of the structured beam pattern to derive range and bearing, relative to the robot, of a object being illuminated.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 20, 1990
    Date of Patent: August 13, 1991
    Assignee: Transitions Research Corporation
    Inventors: John M. Evans, Jr., Carl F. R. Weiman, Steven J. King
  • Patent number: 4979136
    Abstract: A non-linear digital filter system for image data or other signal data suppresses undesirable noise while enhancing significant characteristics of the data. Data elements in a neighborhood (window) defined around and including an input data element are classified into characteristic classes based on their parameter value range. The class with the maximum population is selected as most representative of the neighborhood. A data value associated with that class is chosen as the output of the filter for the input data element around which the neighborhood is defined, to thereby form a plurality filter.As an alternative, the class holding more than half the data elements in the neighborhood is chosen as most representative, to form a majority filter. In case there is no class containing more than half the elements in a neighborhood, the output of the filter equal the value characteristic of the class in which the input pixel itself falls.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 1, 1988
    Date of Patent: December 18, 1990
    Assignee: Transitions Research Corporation
    Inventors: Carl F. R. Weiman, William Pong
  • Patent number: 4967862
    Abstract: A tether-guided vehicle and method of controlling same. A tether sensor indicates the angle, .theta., of the tether with respect to the vehicle and the tension, T, on the tether. A contact-sensitive bumper disposed about at least the front periphery of the vehicle indicates the position, P, and force, F, of contact with an obstacle. A drive system moves the vehicle in response to tether angle, .theta., and tension, T, thereby providing a "servo pull" feature. When the vehicle contacts an obstacle, it stops, backs up, turns and resume forward motion to circumnavigate the obstacle, thereby providing an "obstacle avoidance" feature. The servo pull and obstacle avoidance features make the vehicle suitable in a number of applications, such as for canister vacuums, hospital or factory carts, and the like.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 13, 1989
    Date of Patent: November 6, 1990
    Assignee: Transitions Research Corporation
    Inventors: William Pong, Joseph F. Engelberger, William S. Kazman
  • Patent number: 4968878
    Abstract: An obstacle detection and position sensing system for autonomous mobile vehicles is described. The system includes two spaced-apart contact and position sensitive bumpers disposed across the frontal cross section of the vehicle. Light beams are directed by transceivers and retroreflectors across the frontal cross section area between the two bumpers, forming a light curtain. The combination of the bumpers and light curtain provides complete frontal coverage of the potential collision cross-section of a fairly large vehicle, without obstructing the field of view of sonar, optical, or other forward-looking sensors.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 28, 1989
    Date of Patent: November 6, 1990
    Assignee: Transitions Research Corporation
    Inventors: William Pong, Robert G. Stacy, Allen J. Bancroft
  • Patent number: 4962453
    Abstract: A means and method for control of an autonomous vehicle while working on a surface, specifically for operation of an automatic floor cleaning machine using power derived from line power through a wall plug and cord. The vehicle uses information derived from contact between bumpers and objects in the environment to sense the geometry of its environment and utilizes a recursively applied algorithm to systematically and efficiently cover the floor area.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 7, 1989
    Date of Patent: October 9, 1990
    Assignee: Transitions Research Corporation
    Inventors: Jr. Pong, Joseph F. Engelberger, John M. Evans, Jr., William S. Kazman
  • Patent number: 4958068
    Abstract: An obstacle detection and position sensing system for autonomous mobile vehicles is described. The system includes two spaced-apart contact and position sensitive bumpers disposed across the frontal cross section of the vehicle. Light beams are directed by transceivers and retroreflectors across the frontal cross section area between the two bumpers, forming a light curtain. The combination of the bumpers and light curtain provides complete frontal coverage of the potential collision cross-section of a fairly large vehicle, without obstructing the field of view of sonar, optical, or other forward-looking sensors.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 28, 1989
    Date of Patent: September 18, 1990
    Assignee: Transitions Research Corporation
    Inventors: William Pong, Robert G. Stacy, Allen J. Bancroft
  • Patent number: 4954962
    Abstract: A vision system for a vehicle, such as a mobile robot (10) includes at least one radiation projector (14, 16) which projects a structured beam of radiation into the robot's environment. The structured beam of radiation (14a, 16a) preferably has a substantially planar pattern of sufficient width to encompass the immediate forward path of the robot and also to encompass laterally disposed areas in order to permit turning adjustments. The vision system further includes an imaging (12) sensor such as a CCD imaging device having a two-dimensional field of view which encompasses the immediate forward path of the robot. An image sensor processor (18) includes an image memory (18A) coupled to a device (18D) which is operable for accessing the image memory. Image processing is accomplished in part by triangulating the stored image of the structured beam pattern to derive range and bearing, relative to the robot, of an object being illuminated.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 6, 1988
    Date of Patent: September 4, 1990
    Assignee: Transitions Research Corporation
    Inventors: John M. Evans, Jr., Carl F. R. Weiman, Steven J. King
  • Patent number: 4951985
    Abstract: A bumper for impact detection with an object is disclosed. An electrically conductive member has a compressible, electrically conductive material mounted thereto. An insulator formed of mesh material is sandwiched between the electrically conductive member and the electrically conductive material for electrically insulating the member and the material when the member is in a non-compressed state and to provide electrical conduction between the member and the material when the conductive material is in a compressed state.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 1, 1988
    Date of Patent: August 28, 1990
    Assignee: Transitions Research Corporation
    Inventors: William Pong, William S. Kazman
  • Patent number: 4932489
    Abstract: A vehicle has been provided with a first load carrying frame having freely rotatable supporting wheels attached thereto. A second frame in non-rotable and compliantly suspended from the first frame. A device is mounted to the second frame for driving and steering the vehicle.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 7, 1988
    Date of Patent: June 12, 1990
    Assignee: Transitions Research Corporation
    Inventors: John M. Evans, Robert B. Croston, Wilbur N. Roberts
  • Patent number: 4933864
    Abstract: Apparatus and method which provides for the determination of a vehicle's orientation and position in an environment, such as a hallway, from an image of ceiling lights. A mobile robot 10 includes a camera 12 that is pitched up obliquely at an intermediate angle between a horizon and a zenith. The camera views a ceiling having one or more ceiling lights 16 which may be of rectangular shape and which are preferably aligned with an axis of the hallway. In that the lights present a pattern or alignment which is substantially parallel to or perpendicular to a long axis of the hallway the pattern is detected and processed to derive robot navigation information therefrom.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 4, 1988
    Date of Patent: June 12, 1990
    Assignee: Transitions Research Corporation
    Inventors: John M. Evans, Jr., Carl F. R. Weiman, Steven J. King
  • Patent number: 4905151
    Abstract: A vision system for a mobile robot 10 comprises an optical sensor subsystem 20 which generates a substantially one dimensional image of an environment, a signal processing subsystem 24 for extracting and enhancing significant vertical visual features from the one dimensional image and a feature processing system 26 which analyses rapidly and in real time the extracted features for use by a control system 28 for navigation of the robot. The optical sensor may be a line scan camera having a plurality of outputs which relate to brightness values received from the environment. Triangulation, optical flow and optical flow with log transforms methods are disclosed for processing the one dimensional image data to yield azimuth and/or distance to an object within the environment. Also disclosed is a binocular vision system which generates two, one dimensional images and a method of processing same.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 7, 1988
    Date of Patent: February 27, 1990
    Assignee: Transitions Research Corporation
    Inventors: Carl F. R. Weiman, John M. Evans, Jr.