Patents by Inventor John Drinkard

John Drinkard has filed for patents to protect the following inventions. This listing includes patent applications that are pending as well as patents that have already been granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

  • Patent number: 10841539
    Abstract: The present invention comprises an apparatus and method for monitoring a zone, which is a contiguous or non-contiguous, two-dimensional (2D) area or three-dimensional (3D) volume. Among its several advantages, the apparatus includes a plurality of sensors that monitor portions of the zone and report intrusion status to a control unit that provides monitoring boundary information to each of the sensors based on user input and further “maps” or otherwise associates each sensor to control unit outputs in accordance with user-defined behaviors. Still further, as a meaningful aid for configuring monitoring boundaries used by the sensors for objection intrusion detection, in one or more embodiments of the apparatus and method, at least a subset of sensors use a common coordinate frame of reference, based on a common origin located within overlapping sensor fields of view.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 25, 2017
    Date of Patent: November 17, 2020
    Assignee: OMRON SCIENTIFIC TECHNOLOGIES, INC.
    Inventor: John Drinkard
  • Patent number: 10085001
    Abstract: According to one aspect of the teachings herein, a method and apparatus detect mechanical misalignments in a machine vision system during run-time operation of the machine vision system, and compensate image processing based on the detected misalignments, unless the detected misalignments are excessive. Excessive misalignments may be detected by determining a worst-case error based on them. If the worst-case error exceeds a defined limit, the machine vision system transitions to a fault state. The fault state may include disrupting operation of a hazardous machine or performing one or more other fault-state operations. Among the detected misalignments are internal misalignments within individual cameras used for imaging, and relative misalignments between cameras. The method and apparatus may further perform run-time verifications of focus and transition the machine vision system to a fault state responsive to detecting insufficient focal quality.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 18, 2015
    Date of Patent: September 25, 2018
    Assignee: Omron Corporation
    Inventors: Takeshi Shoji, John Drinkard, Ambrish Tyagi
  • Publication number: 20180048870
    Abstract: The present invention comprises an apparatus and method for monitoring a zone, which is a contiguous or non-contiguous, two-dimensional (2D) area or three-dimensional (3D) volume. Among its several advantages, the apparatus includes a plurality of sensors that monitor portions of the zone and report intrusion status to a control unit that provides monitoring boundary information to each of the sensors based on user input and further “maps” or otherwise associates each sensor to control unit outputs in accordance with user-defined behaviors. Still further, as a meaningful aid for configuring monitoring boundaries used by the sensors for objection intrusion detection, in one or more embodiments of the apparatus and method, at least a subset of sensors use a common coordinate frame of reference, based on a common origin located within overlapping sensor fields of view.
    Type: Application
    Filed: October 25, 2017
    Publication date: February 15, 2018
    Inventor: John Drinkard
  • Patent number: 9712768
    Abstract: The teachings herein provide a method and apparatus for detecting erroneous pixel addressing in an imaging sensor. The method and apparatus advantageously leverage the characteristic “fixed pattern noise” of the sensor to detect addressing errors. Broadly, pixel addressing errors are detected based on comparing the pattern noise seen in data read outs from a targeted address of the sensor with characteristic fixed pattern noise known for the sensor.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 20, 2015
    Date of Patent: July 18, 2017
    Assignee: OMRON CORPORATION
    Inventors: Yoshiharu Tani, John Drinkard
  • Patent number: 9681075
    Abstract: The teachings herein provide a method and apparatus for detecting erroneous pixel addressing in an imaging sensor. The method and apparatus advantageously leverage the characteristic “fixed pattern noise” of the sensor to detect addressing errors. Broadly, pixel addressing errors are detected based on comparing the pattern noise seen in data read outs from a targeted address of the sensor with characteristic fixed pattern noise known for the sensor.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 20, 2015
    Date of Patent: June 13, 2017
    Assignee: OMRON CORPORATION
    Inventors: Yoshiharu Tani, John Drinkard
  • Patent number: 9532011
    Abstract: According to one aspect of the teachings presented herein, a machine vision system includes one or more sensor units that are each advantageously configured to use different pairings among a set of spaced-apart image sensors, to provide redundant object detection for a primary monitoring zone, while simultaneously providing for the detection of objects that may shadow the primary monitoring zone. Further, a plurality of “mitigations” and enhancements provide safety-of-design and robust operation. Such mitigations and enhancements include, for example, bad-pixel detection and mapping, cluster-based pixel processing for improved object detection, test-image injection for fault detection, dual-channel, redundant processing for safety-critical object detection, temporal filtering to reduce false detections, and the use of high dynamic range (HDR) images, for improved operation over variable ambient lighting conditions.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 3, 2012
    Date of Patent: December 27, 2016
    Assignee: Omron Corporation
    Inventors: John Drinkard, Ambrish Tyagi, Yoshiharu Tani, Koichi Kinoshita
  • Patent number: 9501692
    Abstract: According to one aspect of the teachings presented herein, a projective volume monitoring apparatus is configured to detect objects intruding into a monitoring zone. The projective volume monitoring apparatus is configured to detect the intrusion of objects of a minimum object size relative to a protection boundary, based on an advantageous processing technique that represents range pixels obtained from stereo correlation processing in spherical coordinates and maps those range pixels to a two-dimensional histogram that is defined over the projective coordinate space associated with capturing the stereo images used in correlation processing. The histogram quantizes the horizontal and vertical solid angle ranges of the projective coordinate space into a grid of cells. The apparatus flags range pixels that are within the protection boundary and accumulates them into corresponding cells of the histogram, and then performs clustering on the histogram cells to detect object intrusions.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 12, 2012
    Date of Patent: November 22, 2016
    Assignee: Omron Corporation
    Inventors: Ambrish Tyagi, John Drinkard, Yoshiharu Tani, Koichi Kinoshita
  • Publication number: 20160203371
    Abstract: According to one aspect of the teachings presented herein, a projective volume monitoring apparatus is configured to protect against the intrusion of crawling and walking persons into a monitoring zone. The apparatus acquires stereo images of a first monitoring zone that begins at a defined height above a floor and of a second monitoring zone that lies below the first monitoring zone and extends downward to a floor or other surface on which persons may walk or crawl, and processes the stereo images to obtain range pixels. The apparatus detects object intrusions within the first monitoring zone by processing the corresponding range pixels using first object detection parameters that are tuned for the detection of walking or running persons, and detects object intrusions within the second monitoring zone by processing the corresponding range pixels using second object detection parameters that are tuned for the detection of crawling or prone persons.
    Type: Application
    Filed: March 24, 2016
    Publication date: July 14, 2016
    Inventors: Ambrish Tyagi, John Drinkard, Yoshiharu Tani, Koichi Kinoshita
  • Publication number: 20150271474
    Abstract: According to one aspect of the teachings herein, a method and apparatus detect mechanical misalignments in a machine vision system during run-time operation of the machine vision system, and compensate image processing based on the detected misalignments, unless the detected misalignments are excessive. Excessive misalignments may be detected by determining a worst-case error based on them. If the worst-case error exceeds a defined limit, the machine vision system transitions to a fault state. The fault state may include disrupting operation of a hazardous machine or performing one or more other fault-state operations. Among the detected misalignments are internal misalignments within individual cameras used for imaging, and relative misalignments between cameras. The method and apparatus may further perform run-time verifications of focus and transition the machine vision system to a fault state responsive to detecting insufficient focal quality.
    Type: Application
    Filed: March 18, 2015
    Publication date: September 24, 2015
    Inventors: Takeshi Shoji, John Drinkard, Ambrish Tyagi
  • Publication number: 20150244952
    Abstract: The teachings herein provide a method and apparatus for detecting erroneous pixel addressing in an imaging sensor. The method and apparatus advantageously leverage the characteristic “fixed pattern noise” of the sensor to detect addressing errors. Broadly, pixel addressing errors are detected based on comparing the pattern noise seen in data read outs from a targeted address of the sensor with characteristic fixed pattern noise known for the sensor.
    Type: Application
    Filed: February 20, 2015
    Publication date: August 27, 2015
    Inventors: Yoshiharu Tani, John Drinkard
  • Patent number: 8947505
    Abstract: In one aspect of the teachings herein, a 3D imaging apparatus uses a “texture tool” or facilitates the use of such a tool by an operator, to add artificial texture to a scene being imaged, for 3D imaging of surfaces or background regions in the scene that otherwise lack sufficient texture for determining sufficiently dense 3D range data. In at least one embodiment, the 3D imaging apparatus provides for iterative or interactive imaging, such as by dynamically indicating that one or more regions of the scene require artificial texturing via the texture tool for accurate 3D imaging, and then indicating whether or not the addition of artificial texture cured the texture deficiency and/or whether any other regions within the image require additional texture.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 30, 2011
    Date of Patent: February 3, 2015
    Assignee: Omron Scientific Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Ambrish Tyagi, John Drinkard
  • Publication number: 20130300835
    Abstract: In one aspect, this disclosure presents a method and apparatus for verifying that minimum object contrast requirements are met within a region representing a volume to be monitored by a machine vision system. In complementary fashion, the disclosure also presents a methodology for constraining the positions of the lighting sources to be used for illuminating the monitored volume at a minimum height above the floor, and for the use of a key light that provides asymmetrical lighting within the monitored volume relative to the camera(s) used for imaging the monitored volume. Correspondingly, the disclosure also presents a method and apparatus for monitoring for proper operation of the key light and responding to improper operation. The minimum contrast verification and key light monitoring operations can be implemented using standalone apparatuses, or can be incorporated into the machine vision system.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 13, 2013
    Publication date: November 14, 2013
    Inventors: Koichi Kinoshita, Ambrish Tyagi, John Drinkard, Yoshiharu Tani
  • Publication number: 20130076866
    Abstract: According to one aspect of the teachings presented herein, a machine vision system includes one or more sensor units that are each advantageously configured to use different pairings among a set of spaced-apart image sensors, to provide redundant object detection for a primary monitoring zone, while simultaneously providing for the detection of objects that may shadow the primary monitoring zone. Further, a plurality of “mitigations” and enhancements provide safety-of-design and robust operation. Such mitigations and enhancements include, for example, bad-pixel detection and mapping, cluster-based pixel processing for improved object detection, test-image injection for fault detection, dual-channel, redundant processing for safety-critical object detection, temporal filtering to reduce false detections, and the use of high dynamic range (HDR) images, for improved operation over variable ambient lighting conditions.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 3, 2012
    Publication date: March 28, 2013
    Applicant: OMRON CORPORATION
    Inventors: John Drinkard, Ambrish Tyagi, Yoshiharu Tani, Koichi Kinoshita
  • Publication number: 20120123563
    Abstract: The present invention comprises an apparatus and method for monitoring a zone, which is a contiguous or non-contiguous, two-dimensional (2D) area or three-dimensional (3D) volume. Among its several advantages, the apparatus includes a plurality of sensors that monitor portions of the zone and report intrusion status to a control unit that provides monitoring boundary information to each of the sensors based on user input and further “maps” or otherwise associates each sensor to control unit outputs in accordance with user-defined behaviors. Still further, as a meaningful aid for configuring monitoring boundaries used by the sensors for objection intrusion detection, in one or more embodiments of the apparatus and method, at least a subset of sensors use a common coordinate frame of reference, based on a common origin located within overlapping sensor fields of view.
    Type: Application
    Filed: November 17, 2011
    Publication date: May 17, 2012
    Applicant: OMRON SCIENTIFIC TECHNOLOGIES, INC.
    Inventor: John Drinkard
  • Publication number: 20110242283
    Abstract: In one aspect of the teachings herein, a 3D imaging apparatus uses a “texture tool” or facilitates the use of such a tool by an operator, to add artificial texture to a scene being imaged, for 3D imaging of surfaces or background regions in the scene that otherwise lack sufficient texture for determining sufficiently dense 3D range data. In at least one embodiment, the 3D imaging apparatus provides for iterative or interactive imaging, such as by dynamically indicating that one or more regions of the scene require artificial texturing via the texture tool for accurate 3D imaging, and then indicating whether or not the addition of artificial texture cured the texture deficiency and/or whether any other regions within the image require additional texture.
    Type: Application
    Filed: March 30, 2011
    Publication date: October 6, 2011
    Inventors: Ambrish Tyagi, John Drinkard
  • Patent number: 8018353
    Abstract: Zone selection logic in an area monitoring device increases the number of unique monitoring zone selections that can be selected using a limited number of discrete zone selection inputs, without compromising the safety critical operation of zone selection. The device monitors the logical state of each input in a set of individual inputs and recognizes each unique logical combination of zone selection inputs as a different zone selection. For example, each of two or more configured monitoring zones is associated with a different combinatorial zone selection pattern of asserted zone selection input signals. Correspondingly, a control circuit within the area monitoring device is configured to monitor the discrete zone selection inputs and activate a given one of the configured monitoring zones based on recognizing the associated combinatorial zone selection pattern of asserted zone selection signals.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 7, 2009
    Date of Patent: September 13, 2011
    Assignee: Omron Scientic Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Fred Schleifer, Christopher Alan Dums, Alejandro Ruiz Sanchez, John Drinkard
  • Patent number: 7965384
    Abstract: According to a method and apparatus taught herein an active object detection system performs reliable object detection based on light pulse emissions and corresponding and time-of-flight based distance determination, while advantageously rejecting clutter. While not limiting, the method and apparatus taught herein may be particularly advantageous for safety-critical object detection applications, such as where the active object detection system, e.g., a laser scanner, monitors for objects of at least a specified size within a predetermined monitoring radius or contour.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 24, 2008
    Date of Patent: June 21, 2011
    Assignee: Omron Scientific Technologies, Inc.
    Inventor: John Drinkard
  • Publication number: 20090322549
    Abstract: Zone selection logic in an area monitoring device increases the number of unique monitoring zone selections that can be selected using a limited number of discrete zone selection inputs, without compromising the safety critical operation of zone selection. The device monitors the logical state of each input in a set of individual inputs and recognizes each unique logical combination of zone selection inputs as a different zone selection. For example, each of two or more configured monitoring zones is associated with a different combinatorial zone selection pattern of asserted zone selection input signals. Correspondingly, a control circuit within the area monitoring device is configured to monitor the discrete zone selection inputs and activate a given one of the configured monitoring zones based on recognizing the associated combinatorial zone selection pattern of asserted zone selection signals.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 7, 2009
    Publication date: December 31, 2009
    Applicant: OMRON SCIENTIFIC TECHNOLOGIES, INC.
    Inventors: Fred Schleifer, Christopher Alan Dums, Alejandro Ruiz Sanchez, John Drinkard
  • Publication number: 20090086189
    Abstract: According to a method and apparatus taught herein an active object detection system performs reliable object detection based on light pulse emissions and corresponding and time-of-flight based distance determination, while advantageously rejecting clutter. While not limiting, the method and apparatus taught herein may be particularly advantageous for safety-critical object detection applications, such as where the active object detection system, e.g., a laser scanner, monitors for objects of at least a specified size within a predetermined monitoring radius or contour.
    Type: Application
    Filed: September 24, 2008
    Publication date: April 2, 2009
    Applicant: OMRON SCIENTIFIC TECHNOLOGIES, INC.
    Inventor: John Drinkard
  • Patent number: 6753776
    Abstract: A presence sensing system provides one or more visible indicators useful for indicating a relative location of objects sensed within the scanning field of view. For example, the system may have an indicator array or an integrated display assembly in which individual indicators or indicator positions correspond to defined portions of the system's field of view. In this manner, the presence sensing system can indicate where one or more sensed objects lie within its field of view. The system may monitor or otherwise scan an angular field of view and may have an indicator array comprising a plurality of individual indicators, each one corresponding to a portion of the monitored area. With this configuration, the system selectively illuminates or otherwise activates those indicators in the array corresponding to the relative angles of detected objects within its field of view.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 21, 2001
    Date of Patent: June 22, 2004
    Assignee: Scientific Technologies Incorporated
    Inventor: John Drinkard