How do we use 3D tracking motion capture technology in Robotics?

The proliferation of drones has opened the public’s imagination and appreciation of robotics in all forms. The dissemination and affordability of robotics devices promises to change our everyday experience as people. Exo-skeletons, robotic assistants, robotic chefs, cleaners, friends and in some cases robotic lovers are the sensational focus of media reports and Hollywood blockbusters.

Unless you are involved in organised manufacturing assembly and factory automation, you may underestimate the extent to which worker’s every day lives are already permeated by robotic assistants and collaborative robots.

Most automotive vehicle assembly plants use manufacturing robots which provide a competitive advantage. Quality improvements, reduced warranty costs, the increase in capacity and with the relief of bottlenecks, robotics add so much whilst protecting workers from dirty, difficult and dangerous jobs. Able to operate for longer periods and more consistently, these tools are interchangeable, re-programable and reliable.

But how do 3D tracking and Motion Capture technologies factor into this?
From the start, 3D tracking technology enables programmers and engineers to validate robotic process and movement. Using optical motion capture enables object measurement of micro movements and rotational position error of less than 0.05 degrees. The exploration of the complexity of motion means you can Track, Validate then Automate Robotic control.

Research into the deployment of robotics and autonomous systems has many sub-set areas. All very important individually, but ultimately combined when robots are commercially ready for deployment to consumer and industrial markets.

These areas include, multi-agent systems, decision making under uncertainty, ontologies, swarm intelligence and bio-inspired systems, robot teams, verification and validation of robotic and autonomous systems, ethics of autonomous systems and industrial applications.

How these look in the “real” world:

  • Robotic control in theme park and entertainment spaces,
  • Automated control of flexible surfaces in projection mapping for stage, concerts and building video projection mapping, Robotic arm tracking in collaborative manufacturing and assembly spaces,
  • Warehouse robots for distribution and product selection, indeed Amazon has over 45,000 in their network.
  • Robotic vacuum cleaners keep our homes clean, voice activated robots order our music and groceries. We will soon have robotic delivery machines.
  • Research on vehicles which go to space and land on mars or are autonomous on earth all need 3D tracking to validate and determine the next movement.
  • Biomechanics and Powered Exoskeletons - metal frameworks fitted with motorised "muscles" that can multiply the wearers’ strength far beyond that of normal humans.

Knowing where you are enables you to know where you can go next and where you came from. Speed, velocity, range, accuracy and distance are all important to robotic research. All elements delivered by 3D tracking technologies, all fundamental to human and object motion.