Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Robots Can Travel More Safely With New Software

Date:
January 9, 2006
Source:
Stanford University
Summary:
Except in fanciful movies like 2003's The Matrix Revolutions, where fearsome squid-like robots maneuvered with incredible ease, most robots are too clumsy to move around obstacles at high speeds. This is true in large part because they have trouble judging in the images they "see" just how far ahead obstacles are. Recently, however, Stanford computer scientists unveiled a machine vision algorithm that gives robots the ability to approximate distances from single still images.

Except in fanciful movies like 2003's The Matrix Revolutions, where fearsome squid-like robots maneuvered with incredible ease, most robots are too clumsy to move around obstacles at high speeds. This is true in large part because they have trouble judging in the images they "see" just how far ahead obstacles are. Recently, however, Stanford computer scientists unveiled a machine vision algorithm that gives robots the ability to approximate distances from single still images.

Related Articles


"Many people have said that depth estimation from a single monocular image is impossible," says computer science Assistant Professor Andrew Ng, who presented a paper on his research at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference in Vancouver Dec. 5-8. "I think this work shows that in practical problems, monocular depth estimation not only works well, but can also be very useful."

With substantial sensor arrays and considerable investment, robots are gaining the ability to navigate adequately. Stanley, the Stanford robot car that drove a desert course in the DARPA Grand Challenge this past October, used lasers and radar as well as a video camera to scan the road ahead. Using the work of Ng and his students, robots that are too small to carry many sensors or that must be built cheaply could navigate with just one video camera. In fact, using a simplified version of the algorithm, Ng has enabled a radio-controlled car to drive autonomously for several minutes through a cluttered, wooded area before crashing.

Inferring depth

To give robots depth perception, Ng and graduate students Ashutosh Saxena and Sung H. Chung designed software capable of learning to spot certain depth cues in still images. The cues include variations in texture (surfaces that appear detailed are more likely to be close), edges (lines that appear to be converging, such as the sides of a path, indicate increasing distance) and haze (objects that appear hazy are likely farther).

To analyze such cues as thoroughly as possible, the software breaks images into sections and analyzes them both individually and in relationship to neighboring sections. This allows the software to infer how objects in the image appear relative to each other. The software also looks for cues in the image at varying levels of magnification to ensure that it doesn't miss details or prevailing trends—literally missing the forest for the trees.

Using the Stanford algorithm, robots were able to judge distances in indoor and outdoor locations with an average error of about 35 percent—in other words, a tree that is actually 30 feet away would be perceived as being between 20 and 40 feet away. A robot moving at 20 miles per hour and judging distances from video frames 10 times a second has ample time to adjust its path even with this uncertainty. Ng points out that compared to traditional stereo vision algorithms—ones that use two cameras and triangulation to infer depth—the new software was able to reliably detect obstacles five to 10 times farther away.

"The difficulty of getting visual depth perception to work at large distances has been a major barrier to getting robots to move and to navigate at high speeds," Ng says. "I'd like to build an aircraft that can fly through a forest, flying under the tree canopy and dodging around trees." Of course, that brings to mind another movie image: that of the airborne chase scene through the forest on the Ewok planet in Return of the Jedi. Ng wants to take that idea out of the realm of fiction and make it a reality.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Stanford University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Stanford University. "Robots Can Travel More Safely With New Software." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 January 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060108222749.htm>.
Stanford University. (2006, January 9). Robots Can Travel More Safely With New Software. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060108222749.htm
Stanford University. "Robots Can Travel More Safely With New Software." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060108222749.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Computers & Math News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
After Sony Hack, What's Next?

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 19, 2014) The hacking attack on Sony Pictures has U.S. government officials weighing their response to the cyber-attack. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How 2014 Shaped The Future Of The Internet

How 2014 Shaped The Future Of The Internet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) It has been a long, busy year for Net Neutrality. The stage is set for an expected landmark FCC decision sometime in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins