Editorial Feature

Night Surveillance Robots

The importance of surveillance robots is increasing as security is top priority in today’s unpredictable society. With the advance in technology, researchers are able to build more robust robots to handle hazardous situations and save several lives. Research on building better surveillance systems is one of the highly funded projects these days. The following video is an example of night surveillance robots:

United Service Associates, Inc. Black Bot-T Robot. Video Courtesy of TheAeroboticsLab.

Design of Night Surveillance Robots

The increased need for automated surveillance systems for indoor environments, such as airports, production plants, and warehouses, in the recent years, has caused an increase in the development of surveillance systems based on mobile sensors.

Paola A et al (2009) have tried to develop a multi-sensor mobile platform that can autonomously navigate and perform surveillance operations using a multi-sensor platform equipped with a laser scanner, a monocular camera, and an RFID device.

The challenge was for the robot to be able to handle high level decision-making issues in different operative scenarios. To realize this, they developed a modular and reconfigurable system that was capable of tackling low-level reactive control, general surveillance tasks, and high-level planning and sequencing algorithms at the same time.

A three-layer structure was developed for the surveillance system. The Controller was designed with all the necessary behaviors for accomplishing all the possible tasks. It was possible to execute multiple behaviors simultaneously.

The Executor handles the execution of the tasks. Basic tasks include environment mapping, safe navigation, global localization and path planning, and surveillance tasks include specific algorithms for scene analysis of an object or a person. According to the task, the Executor transmits the corresponding commands to the Controller.

The Supervisor is designed to implement high-level operations, monitor the mission execution, and generate events via the estimation of sensory data. It controls all the missions that are in progress, and sends the configuration data about the tasks that has to be started to the Executor, which in turn sends data about the completed tasks.

Milella et al (2008) worked on discovering the possibilities of using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for access control and object tracking in surveillance robots. They managed to precisely localize RFID tags in a geometric map of the environment by using a mobile robot fitted with an RFID device and a laser rangefinder.

Robots equipped with sensors such as cameras, sonar and laser rangefinders, will be able to gain important information for the construction of a map of the environment in the future.

How Night Surveillance Robots Works

Robotic FX’s Negotiator 6X is a lightweight, compact and durable tactical surveillance robot that was specifically designed for first-response teams. It is simple to operate and can be deployed quickly. It is a water-resistant tool with a maximum speed of 3.1 mph.

The robot package consists of robot, robot battery and charger, operator control unit (OCU) with 6X arm controller, OCU battery and charger, high-resolution color video cameras which includes four day/night cameras placed at strategic positions to provide best viewing angles, two-way digital audio communication, and a service tool kit.

The video captured by the cameras are transmitted from the robot to the OCU. The two-way digital audio system enables the operator to communicate from a safe location. The joystick in the OCU enables the operator to control vehicle movement in a precise manner with its six proportional controls, namely, pan axis, wrist tilt axis, shoulder axis, gripper axis, and elbow axis. For low light operations, two large IR LED illuminator panels have been provided. The gripper camera is provided with six IR LEDs.

Advantages

The key benefits of night surveillance robots include the following:

  • Help save time and ensure the safety of men in uniform
  • Highly versatile
  • Night vision cameras provide vital data even in extremely dark environments
  • Maneuverable control systems provide various viewing angles to assess a distant location
  • The robot in some cases can be armed with sprayers that can help to control an agitated person
  • Infrared light from the robot provides visibility for snipers
  • Under carriage of a vehicle can be scanned using these robots
  • Can be deployed in areas where hazardous materials are present due to a leakage. The source of leak or contamination can be assessed easily, and the operator can even read any chemical labels in the room
  • Increased awareness and tactical options for the men in uniform.

Products on the Market - Advancements

ALYaR robotic Ltd., a company dedicated to developing and manufacturing innovative optical intelligence-gathering systems to aid and protect military, law enforcement and security professionals occupied in low-intensity conflict and anti-terrorism operations in cities. They manufacture a series of night surveillance robots based on specific customer requirements and provide all the additional components such as robot, controls, and charger.

  • ALYaR’s Boomerang - is an impact resistant and waterproof two-wheeled surveillance mini robot built with a wireless audio and video communication system that can be radio-operated. It consists of two engines and one night vision camera. It is capable of 2.4 GHz communication video signal, and movement of 300 m on open surface and 100-150 m in closed space. It can be thrown into closed spaces as well as moved across smooth surface. The robot can turn 360° as each wheel works in standalone mode, thus enabling even climbing down the stairs. The robot can get back to original position in case it topples. Operating time is about 2-2.5 h.
  • ALYaR’s Mirage - is a universal all-terrain robot with wireless audio and video communication system that can be operated via radio. It comprises two engines and one night vision camera. The robot is lightweight and mobile with the ability to handle all types of obstacles using special mechanism of power transfer on each of its wheels. It has 2.4 GHz video signal, and is capable of working for about 5 h. The robot can travel for about 300 m on open surface and 100-150 m indoors. Mirage 2 is an advanced version with very powerful backlight night vision and a folding electro-mechanic arm with a clamp that can carry loads to specific locations and unload. This version can reach 500 m on open surface and about 100-150 m indoors.
  • ALYaR’s Equilibrist - is a four-wheeled surveillance mini robot equipped with two cameras with night vision. It has wireless audio and video communication system that is radio-operable. It can be thrown into closed spaces, and has the ability to move on any surface. Each of its wheels has its own engine, thereby enabling the robot to overcome 10-12 cm high obstacles and turn 360°. Night vision cameras can operate automatically, and have a 2.4 GHz video signal. The robot can be operated for 3-5 h, and can travel 300 m on open surface and 100-150 m in closed space.
  • ALYaR’s Quattro – has four ultra-small visual sensors and a backlight for night surveillance. It has an observation range of 200-250 m, and can be installed in any place, or thrown into difficult places. The waterproof and impact-resistant sensors are designed for observation from aerial special launching device, for fixing on birds and other animals, and for throwing with special device into any place. The robot is capable of 360° turn mode with a 3 h work period.

Sources and Further Reading

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