California: A team of engineering graduate students at the University of California has designed “3D Thermal RGB Mapping for Firefighting Robots”. The robotic vehicle creates a virtual reality picture that includes a 3D map and temperature data that can be used immediately by first responders as the robot drives through a building on fire.
The team has developed new image processing techniques for rapid exploration and characterisation of structural fires by small Segway-like robotic vehicles. A sophisticated on-board software system takes the thermal data recorded by the robot’s small infrared camera and maps it onto a 3D scene constructed from the images taken by a pair of stereo RGB cameras. This allows small mobile robotic vehicles to create a virtual reality picture that includes a 3D map and temperature data. The responders can immediately use this data as the robot derives through a building on fire. The research is part of a plan to develop novel robotic scouts that can help firefighters to assist in residential and commercial fires.
The team presented their model at the second annual “Student Infrared Imaging Competition”, a contest that allows students to showcase their innovative ideas using thermal imaging technologies. They have won the “Best Overall Project” award for their project and received the $10,000 grand prize. The team consists of Will Warren, Daniel Yang and Yuncong Chen, all students in the research group of Thomas Bewley, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering at University of California. The competition is organised by DRS Technologies Inc., a supplier of products, services and support to military forces, intelligence agencies and contractors around the world.