News › Fraun­ho­fer IOF • Mobile 3D Mea­su­re­ment on Four Legs

CONTROL: Rese­ar­chers com­bine mobile 3D hand­held scan­ner goSCOUT3D with robot dog

With the hand­held scan­ner goSCOUT3D, Fraun­ho­fer IOF rese­ar­chers have deve­lo­ped a mobile sen­sor that enables high-reso­lu­tion 3D mea­su­re­ments of com­plex objects. To fur­ther auto­mate this pro­cess, rese­ar­chers have now con­nec­ted the scan­ner to a robot dog of the Bos­ton Dyna­mics brand. Doing so is sup­po­sed to make mea­su­re­ments, e.g., in qua­lity assu­rance, even more effi­ci­ent as well as unbur­den employees in future. The unit con­sis­ting of sen­sor head and robot will now be pre­sen­ted for the first time at the CONTROL trade fair in Stutt­gart from April 23–26.

“Heel”, “sit”, or “down” are com­mands every dog owner is fami­liar with. In pro­duc­tion halls or indus­trial manu­fac­tu­ring plants, on the other hand, they are rather less likely to be heard. But if you ask rese­ar­chers at the Fraun­ho­fer Insti­tute for Applied Optics and Pre­cis­ion Engi­nee­ring IOF in Jena, per­haps in future you may also encoun­ter a four-leg­ged com­pa­n­ion here. This hel­per works accor­ding to strict human ins­truc­tion and ther­eby makes the day-to-day work easier for its two-leg­ged col­le­agues. Except that the dog in this case is not a living ani­mal, and the com­mands pri­ma­rily apply to tasks for high-pre­cis­ion 3D documentation.

Auto­ma­ted 3D digi­tiza­tion with robot dog Spot

Be it for the ser­vicing of com­plex com­pon­ents such as air­craft engi­nes, or for qua­lity con­trol in the auto­mo­tive indus­try: Vir­tual 3D models enable the pre­cise docu­men­ta­tion of large machi­nes and their small details. For this pur­pose, rese­ar­chers at Fraun­ho­fer IOF have alre­ady deve­lo­ped the mobile hand­held scan­ner goSCOUT3D in the past year. It enables 2D and 3D digi­tiza­tion of com­plex objects with a volume of seve­ral cubic meters, at a par­ti­cu­larly high spa­tial reso­lu­tion of less than 0.25 millimeters.

Until now, to create these so-cal­led “digi­tal twins”, the scan­ner had to be moved manu­ally by human ope­ra­tors around the object to be mea­su­red. Ope­ra­tors were requi­red to carry out the mea­su­re­ment with great pre­cis­ion, to guide the sen­sor head at a con­stant speed and to main­tain a lar­gely con­stant mea­su­ring distance. Poten­tial signs of fati­gue or incom­plete mea­su­re­ment data were the result at times.

Rese­ar­chers from the depart­ment of Ima­ging and Sens­ing at Fraun­ho­fer IOF have addres­sed this pro­blem from the shop floor and sear­ched for a way to make the mea­su­re­ments more com­for­ta­ble for humans, and at the same time making the ope­ra­tio­nal pro­cess more effi­ci­ent. The solu­tion: They com­bi­ned the 3D scan­ner with a robot dog named Spot from the US com­pany Bos­ton Dynamics.

“Inte­gra­ting the sen­sor head, which was recently deve­lo­ped in Jena, with Spot, will auto­mate the mea­su­ring pro­cess of the goSCOUT3D scan­ner in future and eli­mi­nate the need for con­stant human super­vi­sion”, explains Dr. Andreas Breit­barth, head of Image Pro­ces­sing and Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence at Fraun­ho­fer IOF. “The robot dog can auto­no­mously maneu­ver goSCOUT3D through mea­su­ring sce­na­rios at con­sis­tent mea­su­ring speed and distance”.

Robot makes mea­su­ring pro­cess even more agile and flexible

Com­pared to con­ven­tio­nal mea­su­ring robots that are, e.g., employed along pro­duc­tion lines and ordi­na­rily per­ma­nently moun­ted in place, the auto­no­mous wal­king robot has a cru­cial advan­tage: Thanks to its ability to move around freely and its agi­lity on diverse sur­faces, the mea­su­re­ment object can be recor­ded in full, from every side as well as on various levels, such as below a guide rail.

Con­sis­tent scan speed and redu­ced hand­ling varia­bi­lity fur­ther­more ensure grea­ter repro­du­ci­bi­lity of results and decrease the mea­su­re­ment time through fewer red­un­dan­cies. That makes the inte­gra­ted mea­su­ring unit par­ti­cu­larly inte­res­t­ing for appli­ca­tion in serial manu­fac­tu­ring pro­ces­ses or qua­lity control.

Auto­no­mous mea­su­ring wit­hout human interaction

To achieve these appli­ca­tion goals, a relia­ble coor­di­na­tion bet­ween the robot and 3D sen­sor is neces­sary. So, a hand-eye-cali­bra­tion is used to con­nect the 3D sen­sor to the robot’s coor­di­nate sys­tem. As soon as the wal­king robot is cali­bra­ted to the scan­ner in this way, it can be pro­grammed by human experts to mea­sure pre­de­fi­ned objects. “Before the actual mea­su­ring pro­cess, speed, pre­cise mea­su­ring loca­tion, and other important para­me­ters are sub­mit­ted by a human ope­ra­tor to Spot, so that the robot dog can con­duct the scans the same way as a human being, wit­hout the need for them to be phy­si­cally pre­sent”, Breit­barth explains further.

Thus, Spot could take on, e.g., rou­tine mea­su­re­ments in future. The human experts could ins­tead focus on cri­ti­cal aspects of review as well as ana­ly­sis and eva­lua­tion of the 2D and 3D data crea­ted with the goSCOUT3D. Fur­ther­more, lin­king the scan­ner to an agile robot is also expec­ted to enable methods for remote ope­ra­tion and monitoring.

goSCOUT3D enables mobile mea­su­re­ment of com­plex 3D objects

Rese­ar­chers at Fraun­ho­fer IOF deve­lo­ped the 3D hand­held scan­ner goSCOUT3D in 2023 in col­la­bo­ra­tion with MTU Main­ten­ance. To create com­plex 3D models, the sen­sor head, which weighs only 1.3 kilo­grams, cap­tures two-dimen­sio­nal color images of the sel­ec­ted mea­su­re­ment sce­na­rio using a 20-mega­pi­xel color camera. The 3D data of the entire sce­na­rio is cal­cu­la­ted from these using photogrammetry.

Pre­sen­ta­tion at CONTROL 2024

The unit, con­sis­ting of the goSCOUT3D and Spot, will now be show­ca­sed at CONTROL 2024 for the first time. At the inter­na­tio­nal trade fair for tech­no­logy and qua­lity assu­rance in Stutt­gart, the mea­su­ring sys­tem will be pre­sen­ted from April 23 to 26.

Here, Fraun­ho­fer IOF will exhi­bit at booth 8201 in hall 8.

Read the full press release in the Fraun­ho­fer IOF online press por­tal here: