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3D Camera Offers Smart Solutions For Industry

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Edited by: sue Macgreggor
Last Updated: 2nd July 2011

Stemmer Imaging has recently introduced a 3D smart camera, the LMI Technologies’ Gocator, into its range that will revolutionise industrial 3D measurements.  This new 3D capability brings it within reach of a much wider range of applications in one lower-cost package.  The distinctive yellow ruggedised casing contains an integrated laser source, optics, on-board processing of 3D data and direct web browser visibility.

The range of LMI Gocator 3D cameras, more technically known as laser displacement sensors are pre-calibrated at the factory with a plug-and-play connectivity and therefore, they can be set up within minutes from configuration to measuring 3D dimensions on the production line.  

Many applications on robotic production lines require the linking of Gocator 3D cameras and plug-and-play makes the set up easy to give truly amazing versatility of differential measurement in real time with pas/fail decision making possible.  Profile data from two or more cameras can be combined using the single GUI in the designated master Gocator, to measure, make decisions and show results as if they came from a single sensor.  For larger objects, a number of Gocators can be networked in this way and the on-board point and click GUI makes this into a simple operation.

Looking at the control system options in a little more detail, the use of more advanced communication and control systems is perfectly possible such as  "C" language scripting to perform custom calculations or define unique logic decisions.  The Gocator is accessible to Ethernet and simple cabling is provided for inputs, outputs, and power. Versatile I/O capabilities allow the camera to be triggered from parameters chosen from time, encoder, external input, or software, and data and decisions can be transmitted a via RS-485 serial output channel.  Alternatively, measurement decisions can be outputted digitally to external devices or measurement values and decisions can be converted to analogue output signals.

Outputs are expressed in real time in X, Y & Z Cartesian co-ordinates and the field of view required for the 3D camera is selectable from 14 mm to 1260 mm by procuring the correct model optics from the Gocator range.  There are some advanced features that include dynamic exposure modes to deal with surfaces with a high variation of surface reflectivity by using multiple exposures and combining the results to give an accurate profile every time.

The applications can be deceptively simple such the positioning of 4 milking cups onto a cow in an automated milking parlour.  Each milking stall continuously tracks the 4 target locations (the teat ends) and the milking cups as the machine control system positions the milking cups whilst accounting for the cow teat movements and discounting other moving parts such as legs, tails, and humans that “distract” some earlier control systems.  The high variation of surface reflectivity of natural hide and teat makes this task technically difficult but the Gocator 3D camera is more than equal to the task.