Tag Archives: TANGO

This Quadrotor Uses Google’s Project Tango to Fly Autonomously

Original source from: http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/aerial-robots/autonomous-quadrotor-flight-based-on-google-project-tango

I applied to get Google’s Tango phone but no success. It seems to they only chose research groups within U.S soil (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

Recently, GRASP Lab. from Upenn demonstrated a quadrotor powered by Tango phone. At a glance, it looks pretty stable and well-working. Disturbance rejection and fast motion are properly handled and the flyer rapidly stabilised.

As they said, researchers are now evaluating accuracy of 30Hz state estimation coming from the Tango phone with motion capture ground truth and I can’t wait to see the performance.

It might have weak research motivations if they only put the phone on top of the flyer since it already has been done using Kinect-fashion RGBD-sensors 3 years ago. Another interesting point is that it might work only within close-proximity due to its small baseline.

Here is the video from Minnesota University using Tango Phone for 3D mapping on a quadrotor platform.

 

 

and the article from IEEE Spectrum.

 

Image: UPenn/GRASP Lab

Early this year, Google unveiled its Project Tango smartphone, a mobile device equipped with a depth sensor, a motion tracking camera, and two vision processors that let the phone track its position in space and create 3D maps in real time. The device is particularly useful for robots, which have to navigate and locate themselves in the world. Indeed, a video showed how Google and its partners were putting the smartphone on different kinds of robots, including mobile platforms and manipulator arms.

Now researchers at the University of Pennsylvania led by Professor Vijay Kumar are taking things one step further. After getting a Tango device from Google, they put it on one of their quadrotors and let it loose inside their lab.

Kumar says that a big challenge for researchers working with flying robots is not building them but rather developing hardware and software capable of making them autonomous. Many robots use GPS for guiding themselves, or, when flying indoors, they rely on motion tracking systems like Vicon and OptiTrack, which offer great accuracy but requires that you install sensors on walls and ceilings.

A device capable of localizing itself in space without GPS or external sensors, as the Tango phone does, opens new possibilities for flying robots. Kumar says that the Google device is remarkable because it lets you “literally velcro it to a robot and have it be autonomous.”

Giuseppe Loianno, a PhD student in Kumar’s group, has made a video showing their initial tests with the device. In the first part of the video, Loianno sets the quadrotor to hover at a fixed position and then perturbs it by moving it around, but the drone promptly returns to the starting point. Next Loianno commands the drone to go to different places in the room and, even if disturbed, the drone recovers and stays on its programmed path.

 

 

Kumar says the only measurement from the Tango phone is its pose, which is the position plus orientation with reference to a starting coordinate system (captured at a rate of 30 Hz), and the only other sensor used is the IMU onboard the drone. (The laptop is not controlling flight autonomy in any way; it’s only used to send a desired trajectory to the drone and to render a visualization of the its positions in space. And the quadrotor is a machine that Kumar’s group designed and built with off-the-shelf components.)

The researchers now plan to study Tango’s accuracy of localization (and compare it to external motion tracking systems), but from their initial tests they estimate the accuracy to be within a centimeter. If that proves to be the case (and if Tango can be made cheap enough), it will be an impressive capability for the Google device, which could revolutionize how mobile robots and drones navigate indoor spaces.

Kumar says that the convergence of computation, communication, and consumers has a huge potential for the robotics industry, and a device like Tango is a key advance because it’s “lowering the barrier to entry for autonomous robots.”

 

Google’s Project Tango headed to International Space Station

 

Source from: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2110660/googles-project-tango-headed-to-international-space-station.html

Google’s Project Tango, the prototype smartphone packed with sensors so it can learn and sense the world around it, is heading to the International Space Station.

Two of the Tango phones are due to be launched to the ISS on the upcoming Orbital 2 mission, which is scheduled to launch in May and take supplies to the station. The phones will be used as part of a NASA project that’s developing robots that could one day fly around the inside or outside of the space station, or even be used in NASA’s planned mission to land on an asteroid.

Work on the robots is already going on at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, and this week the space agency let a small group of reporters visit its lab and see some of the research.

spheres space station
Three Spheres satellites float inside the International Space Station.

The phones, which are being supplied to a limited number of developers at present, were unveiled by Google a month ago. They include several cameras and infrared range-finding so the phone can build up a three-dimensional model of its surroundings—a significant difference from current handsets that can see only a two-dimensional world through a single camera.

Google has already shown the phones being used to build up a detailed map of the interior of a home or office, but NASA has much bigger plans. At Ames, which is just minutes from Google’s Mountain View headquarters, researchers have attached a Tango handset to a robot development platform called a “Sphere.”

Technically an 18-sided polyhedron, each Sphere is about the size of a soccer ball and self-powered. They can free-fly around the inside of the ISS thanks to carbon dioxide-powered thrusters, said Chris Provencher, Smart Spheres project manager at NASA.

The Spheres have already been used in developing autonomous equipment. The space agency conducted a Spheres test with a Nexus S smartphone as part of Shuttle mission STS-135 in 2011, but the Tango phones promise more capabilities.

“We are researching how effective Project Tango’s vision-based navigation capabilities are for performing localization and navigation of a mobile free flyer on ISS,” said Andres Martinez, Spheres Manager at NASA.

“Specifically, we are researching how well the 3-D modeling and visual odometry can be used to let the [Spheres] free flyer learn its environment and maneuver through it based on what it sees,” said Martinez. “This is in contrast to the current Spheres localization system, which relies on fixed sensors in the environment to help the Spheres track its position.”

On Monday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden saw a demonstration of the Tango-equipped Spheres during a visit to Ames. One was connected to a Spheres satellite, which was slowly gliding across a huge granite table in a laboratory.

There are already three Spheres units on the ISS.

Hearing that researchers are working toward a robot that would autonomously fly around the inside and possibly outside of the ISS carrying out checks, Bolden asked if the same technology could be put to use on NASA’s planned asteroid mission. The space agency wants to approach and capture a piece of an asteroid, and Bolden wondered if the work could form the base of a robot that could approach, analyze and help identify a target for the mission.

That could be so, said Provencher.

Researchers hit upon the idea of using smartphones in their development work when they realized the features they wanted—Wi-Fi, a camera, more processing power—were all present in an off-the-shelf device.

The phones in use by NASA have had several minor modifications. The lithium-ion battery pack has been removed, the phone is powered by six AA batteries and the cellular radio chip has also been removed to put it into “the ultimate airplane mode,” said Provencher. A cover has also been put over the screen to contain pieces of glass should it be shattered.

(Additional reporting by Melissa Aparicio in San Francisco.)