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Surveyor Intros Low-cost 3D Stereo Vision for Robotics and Web

Surveyor Corporation, a developer of small vision-enabled wireless robots and robot controllers, has introduced Surveyor SVS -- a $550 stereo vision system for robotics, embedded image processing, and web-based remote monitoring. The system includes onboard programmability, WiFi connectivity, interfaces to sensors and actuators, and an open source architecture.

"The Surveyor SVS provides a very effective approach to the challenge of acquiring depth perception without the need for a collection of additional sensors, and the low system cost will bring this technology within reach of more developers," explains Howard Gordon, CEO and founder of Surveyor. "Surveyor has been a pioneer in the development of low-cost vision-enabled robotics, and the Surveyor SVS represents an important building block in connecting machines with the real world."

Stereo vision is similar in concept to biological visual sensing, where the difference in perspective from two cameras, like a pair of eyes, enables computation of object and obstacle location in the vision system's field-of-view. Vision has been an integral part of all Surveyor robotics designs, though camera data has typically been combined information from other sensors such as ultrasonics, infrared or laser to resolve size and distance to perceived objects.

The Surveyor SVS can function as a wireless mobile stereo network camera for Internet video delivery or as an autonomous robotic controller for onboard vision processing. The system consists of two high- performance Analog Devices Blackfin BF537 32-bit processors (1000MIPS each), two Omnivision OV9655 1.3 megapixel cameras with 90-degree FOV lenses, PWM motor control, servo, GPIO, SPI and I2C interfaces, 3.3V and 5V regulation for battery-based operation, and a Lantronix Matchport 802.11bg WiFi radio, all fitting within in a compact 2.5" x 6" x 2" volume and consuming less than 2 watts. The design is published as open source under the GPL license, with schematics and software available for download at www.surveyor.com/blackfin/.

A variety of software interfaces to the Surveyor SVS are provided in Windows, Mac OS/X, and Linux. Source code is provided for Java- and Python-based consoles, and software support for the Surveyor SVS is found in Microsoft Robotics Studio and RoboRealm vision software. Full specifications for the Surveyor SVS and links to third-party software are at www.surveyor.com/stereo/.

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