Last week in Trento there was a key event of the VERITAS FP7 project.
People gathered in the labs to integrate the multi-sensorial platform, which is a set of co-ordinated measurement systems aimed at measuring the behavior of human people with reduced abilities, caused by disease or the elder condition. By means of the multi-sensorial platform a large number of parameters can be collected, which serve to make virtual user models. In the picture Karel, our boss and coordinator of subproject 1 (virtual user models) is portrayed while involved in carefully supervising the integration activities :-).
I had the opportunity to co-teach the course of Precision Engineering (ME324) at the Stanford University during this Spring quarter. Traditionally, the course has a laboratory part, in which students have to design and build some precision devices.
This year, I suggested to use a linear CCD camera to exploit an optical lever as a way to detect and measure the displacement of a touch probe with sub-micron resolution and — possibly — repeatability.
After three months of hard work and with a budget of roughly $1000, the device was ready. Although actually two different prototypes have been produced and tested, those were similar enough to let me tell here about one of them, just for the sake of brevity.
The concept is based around the idea of having a visible laser beam pointing at a mirror that deflects the beam towards a linear CCD sensor, without any additional optics (which could hamper the repeatability). The mirror itself is mounted on a 1-DoF flexure element, which also holds the actual touch probe (a standard metrology stylus with 2mm ruby sphere).
The linear CCD has a sensel size of 8 µm, but since the laser image on the CCD itself has a width of about 2 mm (over 45 mm of total CCD length), sub pixel interpolation allows to obtain much finer resolution (actually, on nanometer range).
Even more demanding than the development of the sensors, though, proven to be the characterization of its performance, in terms of repeatability: in order to perform a characterization of a measurement device, you better have a whole measurement set-up which has to be better than the unit under test, of at least one order of magnitude.
So, after a while, we have been able to perform a reliable characterization of the prototype, and the result was pretty exciting, if not shocking: as you can see from the chart here below, the measurement proved to be repeatable down to 60 nm. The chart reports the average measurement, the range and the standard deviation of a set of 6 line scans made by the touch probe along a surface.
The details about this work will be presented at the ASME conference IMECE2011 to be held in Denver, Colorado, this November.
After a week of hard battles among the four teams that competed in the Virtual Pole Championships we have a winner: the MacMana team succeeded being second in the first race, winning the second race for just few milliseconds and scoring the third place in the last race.
Each race had a different winner: A_team easily won the first race but was not able to repeat the great the results in the following two races. CGS_racing improved their performance from race to race, scoring a thrid place in the first race and two second places in the followings.
Tired_bull won the last race with a great improvement in performance with respect to the previous races.
A detailed technical analysis of the VirtualPole championship will be soon published on this blog and in the VirtualPole website .
I want to thank all the people that make it possible this event: Enrico Bertolazzi, Paolo Bosetti, Marco Galvani, Mauro Da Lio and above all Fabrizio Zendri who really dedicated a lot of time and effort in the VirtualPole site development and management.
Do not miss the next news on the VirtualPole event.
A new educational tool has been proposed to the students of the course of Vehicle Dynamics and Controls which is part of the Master degree in Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Trento.
The tool is a web based minimum lap time solver that allows users to setup a racing cars F1 like. The tool has been developed to let young engineers to experience the design of a racing car and feel the thrill of a race event. Thanks to the optimal control theory and a robust non-linear numerical solver it is possible to find the optimal input (i.e. steering angle, throttle and brake pedals) that drives the vehicle along a "real" circuit in the minimum time. The solution is found with in a lap frame (about 1 minute). The use of the optimal control to find the minimum time guarantees that the vehicle is always driven to the limits of its capability. It is like having the car driven by the best rider. Therefore it is "only" the racing engineer responsibility to choose the most approriate setup.
The VirtualPole is proposed as end-term project to teams of students that attended the course of Vehicle Dynamics and Controls. Teams compete against each other to find the setup that lead to the fastest lap-time, i.e. the Pole Position. Teams can tune many parameters, such as gear ratios, centre of mass positions, and choose from a given sets of tyres and airfoil profiles.
The Chanpionship consists of three circuits and the winner team will be the one that gets more points.
People interested can follow the championships at VirtualPole web site.
In the near future it will be available to all race-car enthusiasts that want to challenge their knowledge of vehicle dynamics.
Stay tuned more information will come soon.
The Framework Programme 7 collaborative project (IP) "interactIVe" aims at developing a new integrated onboard safety function system(s). The university of Trento is involved in this project with the role to develop an artificial co-driver, "who" will act like a tutor (an angel?!?) surveilling and understanding the driver behaviour and seamlessly suggesting to the Human Machine Interface proper corrective actions, if and only when needed. The idea is that the system will provide "Continuous Support" an a non-obtrusive way, virtually disappearing when there is no need for it, but being ready to help the driver and recall his/her attention when that is needed.
More info about the interactive project at: www.interactIVe-ip.eu
Good news for students abroad and especially non EU citizens. Starting from fall 2011 the Master of Science in Mechatronics engineering opens to international application (a limited number of position is available). The course will be in english and will offer a two years curriculum in mechatronic engineering. More details are given in the web page http://international.unitn.it/mastermech . Hurry up: the deadline for applications is March 5 2011.
For students interested in Materials Science and engineering, another master of our University also opens to international applications. Details at http://international.unitn.it/mastermat
This week (November 29-30, and December 1-3) the VERITAS project held its first workshop and user forum in Prague . VERITAS is FP7 European project with an ambitious aim: to develop digital human characters that can be used to test the design of ICT and non-ICT products. In other words to develop virtual human beings that emulate the behavior of real human beings and which can be used to simulate how human beings interact with physical environments, (home and workplace), objects (home appliances, workplace appliances, healthcare devices), computer interfaces and mobile phones etc. If this sounds tricky, then be prepared: the difficult thing has yet to come! In facts, not only VERITAS wants to develop virtual users, it wants do model the behavior of virtual users that have some form functional limitations, resulting from disease or aging. In this way we hope that future products can be tested at the early design stages and be developed in a way in which they are accessible by design. VERITAS models motor impairments (e.g. resulting from arthritis, Parkinsons’s disease, stroke etc.), visual impairments, speech and hearing impairment, cognitive impairments (e.g. Alzheimer disease) and psychological and behavioral states (e.g. the effect of stress). VERITAS aims at developing a library of virtual users, and a simulation engine, which can be used to supplement existing environments for the development of products. VERITAS targets 5 application areas: Automotive (e.g. accessibility of cars and motorcycles), Home (e.g. accessibility of home environment and appliances), workplace (accessibility of workplace environment and appliances), Recreation and games (accessibility of social networks, games etc.) and healthcare (accessibility of medical devices, connectivity etc.).
For more information about VERITAS project have a look at the website: http://veritas-project.eu/
Intelligent Vehicle 2010 is now over. What remains is here. http://cvrr.ucsd.edu/IV2010/
I would like to remember a few things that impressed me.
The last day of the conference there was a very interesting keynote talk by Uwe Franke of Dalmier. He spoke about vision. He showed very impressive stereo dense reconstruction of 3D world plus motion flow (dense again) by means of which a 6-dimensional representation of the world which allows do “segment” things that are located nearby by have different speed. Ii is somewhat that already exists in the vision system of animals and human being and which permits to detect incoming dangerous “objects” even before that they are recognized. H showed a pedestrian appearing behind a parked car which was detected by the system before the attendees could spot it in the video. The picture is the conclusive slide of his talk.
In the afternoon there was the demo session. Here is the conference chair, Mohan Trivedi, being interviewed during the demo session.
You can find also picture of the conference banquet, held at Birch acquaium, here http://www.flickr.com/photos/calit2/sets/72157624224356563/
Pictures of the demos are here. http://www.flickr.com/photos/calit2/sets/72157624254244917/
Lastly webcasts can be found at this link. http://calit2.net/webcast
Yesterday the Intelligent Vehicle Symposium opened in San Diego, California. Here si a picture of the Akinson Hall entrance where the symposium is held at the University of California, San Diego. Notice the Stone bear, which is the symbol of the UCSD.
Here are other pictures.
Preparing an Integrating Project, a monster the size of about 10 M€ requires a lot of work which begins far before the call for the project is published. It is typical to begin working on a new idea somewhat 18-12 months ago, if the project is that size.
In the picture Paolo Bosetti is going to illustrate the ideas of a new project which should go in the Factory of the Future priority next Autumn. This is the first meeting of the consortium, where the project if defined and partners roles and contribution is clarified. There will probably be another meeting before we are able to finalize the project (STREPS are far simpler).
But… before that meeting another six months stand. In facts we began collecting partners at the info day for Cognitive Systems, on January 14 2010 in Luxemburg. It took about six months to form a solid consortium, but this is the prerequisite for hoping to win.