The INGENIOUS Smart mapping and localization devices
The design and prototyping of several smart flying and ground devices have been performed in the first year of Ingenious. One of the INGENIOUS main aims is to provide first responders with new instruments to enable improved scene perception, indoor/outdoor mapping, accurate self-localization in indoor environments, as well as data communication with other devices. For this purpose INGENIOUS partners from SINTEF, FOI and DLR are developing three drones (MIN, MAX and MACS) and a self-localization tool (IPS). All these devices are connected with the field communication system.
MIN drones (Fig. 1) are being developed by SINTEF to generate an indoor mesh network to support the positioning of first responders in the indoor spaces (Fig. 2). In particular, an effective strategy to autonomously deploy a swarm of MINs in the indoor environment is under development: collision avoidance and peer-to-peer communication modules have been successfully tested by SINTEF.
MAX drone, designed by FOI, is equipped with various miniaturized active and passive sensors that allow to navigate autonomously in indoor and outdoor spaces and collect useful information. Fig. 3 shows an early prototype of MAX. Current efforts are on the development of efficient algorithms to support drone localization/positioning in areas without GPS, while simultaneously allowing detailed 3D mapping and understanding of complex scenes: an example of a 3D representation generated using on-board laser scanners is shown in Fig. 4. In addition, data from on-board RGB cameras are exploited by ITC, using deep learning algorithms to process these low-light images and deliver useful semantic information of the scene in near real-time.
Apart from the MINs and MAX, the MACS UAV designed by DLR is adopted for the rapid and large-scale mapping in the air (Fig. 5). In addition to the UAV solutions, an Integrated Positioning System (IPS, Fig. 6) that can be carried by first responders and yield their positions in a combined indoor and outdoor environment is being developed by DLR. The tool will be optimized to work in harsh environments.
The different tools are connected together by the field communication system (implemented by ICCS) that provides first responders with the prompt visualization of results during complex operations. The field communication system connects these tools with all the other tools and components developed in Ingenious, safeguarding the used bandwidth.
The first prototypes of the described tools have been developed and tested in this first year of the project. They will be further tested in the LIT test soon, receiving relevant feedback from the Ingenious end-users. These devices are expected to significantly improve the first responders’ efficiency and safety.