HAMK team got a special mention award for their Environment Surveying Automated Vehicle in a SICK Innovation competition. SICK is one of the world's leading sensor and sensor applications manufacturers for industrial uses.
Picture: Finland Geniuses -team
The need for road condition monitoring and maintenance is a legitimate concern for the people and the governing body, as the road quality is a major factor deciding the safety of travelers. At the same time, economic efficiency depends greatly on the road quality, as it relates directly to the fuel and transportation efficiency. The innovation employed a SICK TiM laser scanner to acquire the surface data of an environment, e.g. road surface or indoor terrain, with the main target being road surface reconstruction. Additionally, the data collected can be used for multiple purposes such as maps for indoor robots; building verification and environment reconstruction in software applications. With the rise of data science and the Internet of Things, the possibilities for using this data is very promising and wide-open.
Participation in the competition from the learning perspective
Principal lecturer Katariina Penttilä emphasized innovation skills:
“Innovation is a key part of the engineering and product development activities. For Finland to keep pace with the development of future technologies, it is essential that the education provides opportunities for innovation and implementation of innovations. Competitions are a great way to motivate students, to develop teamwork skills, and apply what they have learned and apply new knowledge. All of these are essential skills required in working life. In the national competition held by SICK, the teams built their cooperation skills and team spirit, and competed against other colleges, universities of applied sciences and universities. In addition to this, students will see where their skill levels are placed in the Finnish context. Team Suomi Geniuses participated in the SICK Innovation Contest excellently. Their work was an active and innovative, an investigative and experimental learning process, which was based on strong theoretical knowledge. HAMK Electrical and Automation Engineering is proud of its students for their placement in the competition. Honorable mention also serves as a reference for members of the team to put in their CV for a professional career.”
Main usage and implementation goals
Currently road surface monitoring applications requires the use of a surface profiling sensor, which costs around 10000 euros per device. The innovation, Environment Surveying Automated Vehicle (ESAV), is a proof-of-concept that was developed to prove that the laser scanner can replace surface profiling sensors in terrain mapping applications.
The main application for the innovation is road surface condition acquirement. In addition to this, the innovation can also be used to map indoor 3D-environment. The data acquired can be used in many cases in addition to road surface reconstruction, for example, building map data for indoor robots and virtual or augmented reality (VR/AR) environment data.
How it was implemented
To correctly reconstruct the environment terrain, the orientation angles of the laser scanner and the moving speed of the scanner had to be known. The solution for collecting environmental data was to mount the laser scanner on a vehicle, facing down to the ground. In details, the solution consisted of three parts:
- An automated car, powered by the Arduino Mega 2560 microcontroller. Features of the car included speed control and steering using differential two-wheel drive. A 200 Hz Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensor fusion algorithm was implemented to provide the orientation angles of the car.
- A Raspberry Pi 3 for interfacing with the SICK TiM561 Laser Scanner. The Pi communicates with the Arduino via a serial connection to acquire speed and orientation angles, and to give the speed set point for the car.
- An offline visualization software to apply post-processing to the scan data and render the scanned surface.
The features of SICK TiM laser scanner, which include fast data acquisition rate; wide, high resolution aperture and good accuracy, makes it perfectly suited for terrain mapping applications. In addition to this, the flexible interfaces provided by the scanner makes it easier to integrate in any existing system.
Using a TiM laser scanner greatly reduces the implementation costs of surface surveying applications, as a laser scanner is significantly cheaper than a surface profiling device. Furthermore, a laser scanner acquires the surrounding environment and the reflection characteristics of the surface, in addition to the surface data, enabling the innovation to work in both indoor and outdoor environment. The reflection characteristics of the surface could be used to indicate age and composition of the material, in addition to terrain data.
For further information:
Student: Khoa Dang – firstname.lastname@example.org
Principal lecturer Katariina Penttilä, phone no. +358 50 344 9695, email@example.com
Team members: Khoa Dang, Silvia Lupea, Samuli Multaniemi, Giang Nguyen, Minh Tran