Neptec Technologies Corp., a spin-out of Neptec Design Group Ltd., an award-winning space flight technology company and NASA Prime Contractor, today announced the launch of a range of innovative obscurant-penetrating 3D laser scanners (OPAL 2.0) for harsh environments and a software development tool kit (3DRi) with real-time features such as automatic change detection and object recognition and tracking. These out-of-the-box “building blocks” make it easy to develop intelligent 3D machine vision applications on autonomous off-road vehicles and for laser-based survey and measurement tasks in harsh environments.
“OPAL 2.0 and 3DRi represent the first step in Neptec’s broader strategy to adapt over 20 years of technology innovation for clients such as NASA and the Canadian Space Agency for commercial use on Earth,” said Paul Nephin, Chairman and Founder of Neptec. “Commercializing technology takes a product-centric mindset, so we set up Neptec Technologies as a separate company from Neptec Design Group Ltd. with the mandate to create value for customers looking to use next-generation 3D machine vision and robotics technologies in their operations.”
Neptec Design Group Ltd. is an industry leader in developing mission critical real-time 3D sensor, software and robotics technologies for the Space market. Industries such as mining, oil and gas, construction, automotive, defence, and homeland security are increasingly turning to these technologies to improve safety and productivity, and reduce costs.
“To take on greater autonomy, machines need 3D sensors that can give them an accurate view of their surroundings, and intelligence to interpret that input and react appropriately to the situation,” said Mike Sekerka, Chief Operating Officer for Neptec Technologies. “And it all has to work in real-time, while moving, in harsh environments and unpredictable situations! Neptec has been solving such mission-critical problems for the Space Shuttle for years, and we are now adapting these technologies for terrestrial applications.”
OPAL 2.0 laser scanners are specifically designed for real-time 3D applications in harsh environments. They incorporate Neptec’s obscurant-penetrating LiDAR technology – originally developed for helicopters landing in brownout conditions in the desert – and have been packaged for the punishing conditions typical of off-road vehicles and mapping sensors used in the mining, oil and gas, and construction industries.
More Information, Less Data!
Traditionally, extracting actionable information from 3D laser scanners has been a major challenge for integrators trying to develop intelligent machine vision solutions.
“We’ve taken a fresh approach to 3D machine vision because, in real-time applications like surveillance or autonomous navigation, it is not just about the sensor collecting and, more importantly, having to process millions of data points per second,” said Sekerka. “Instead, it’s about collecting the right amount of 3D data that contains the actionable information you really need.”
Over the course of many projects for NASA and other clients in the Space market, Neptec has developed a collection of highly efficient 3D data algorithms and real-time software for automatic change detection, 3D data alignment and object recognition and tracking.
“We have incorporated that technology, which we called 3DRi (3D Real-time intelligence), into a software development toolkit to make it easier to develop and integrate intelligent 3D machine vision solutions,” said Sekerka. “This greatly reduces integration complexity and life cycle costs for our customers.”