Pets, Plants, and Computer Vision

ROS Industrial – Industrial Grade Awesome.

March 12th, 2014 | Posted by admin in automation | code | computer vision | demo | industrial computing | Industrial Internet | manufacturing | robots | Uncategorized - (Comments Off on ROS Industrial – Industrial Grade Awesome.)


Last week I had the pleasure of going to Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) to attend a ROS Industrial training session. I’ve been insanely busy for the past few months writing computer vision and other code for a fairly substantial Robot Operating System (ROS) project. I’ve been converted over to the dark side of ROS from OpenCV as ROS’s message bus, modular nature, and build tools are absolutely phenomenal. Hopefully a lot of that code will go back to the community once my employer signs the contributors agreement. I’ve gotten to know a lot about the sensor side of ROS but I wanted to round out my knowledge of the actuator side of things. This ROS-Industrial session seemed like a good place to do just this, and also get acquainted with more people working in manufacturing.

SwRI has always had a mythical place in my mind, mainly because all the cool kids got to go there when I got left behind at the lab. When I was in undergrad the RHex robot went there for testing, and while I was at Cybernet our DARPA Urban Challenge crew got to go there while I got to stay home and man the fort. A few months ago SwRI reached out to me and I asked if I could perhaps help with ROS Industrial. I’ve been trying to get some code and documentation done for them but I’ve been so busy I haven’t made as much progress as I would have liked. SwRI is currently the maintainer of ROS Industrial, and along with the OSRF they are making great strides to improving the usability of ROS in industrial settings.

The tutorials published and presented by SWRI were excellent and very well polished. They made a conscience effort to have the tutorials go from high level tutorials for decision makers all the way to nuts and bolts code introductions for programmers and integrators. I really hope the publish more of the tutorials as they were exceptionally well put together, relevant, and well thought out. To be certain what SwRI is trying to accomplish with ROS industrial is no small feat, as you can see from the video of of their 2013 Automate Demo video at the top of the page. At the the ROS Industrial training session SwRI walked us through the high level architecture of this system (all of the components are FOSS software!) at a level where I think I could probably recreate it given a few weeks of coding. For a single day session I thought they covered a lot of ground and the demos they had of ROS industrial were incredible. In addition to the 2013 Automate demo they had a another robot doing arm doing an exceptionally complex deburring maneuver around an complex bent puzzle piece. Another demo showed an on-line object tracking and path planning demo for robot finishing of automotive parts. I capture a few of the demos in a short video.

In addition to the tutorials I picked up a few new and interesting libraries from the other attendees. One that stood out was MTConnect which is a free and open XML/HTML standard for robots and CNC software to communicate their state and status. It looks pretty cool and there are already some open libraries out on github. Another cool suite of tools is this EPICS PLC communication package put out by Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland. There also seems to be a mirror of it by Argonne National labs. Apparently CERN uses a lot of PLCs and they were insistent that all PLCs used at CERN had open Linux drivers. EPICS stands for Experimental Physics and Industrial Control System. I haven’t looked too deeply into the package but it seems like it could be handy.


Last week the SightMachine crew had the pleasure of meeting with a reporter from O’Reilly media. They just released a really nice write up about how we are helping to build the industrial internet right here in Michigan. This is a follow on to the really excellent piece about SightMachine in the Atlantic a few months back.

SimpleCV 1.0 Released!

June 20th, 2011 | Posted by admin in Ann Arbor | automation | code | computer vision | entrepreneurship | Ingenuitas | manufacturing | Michigan | New York | Open Source | OpenCV - (Comments Off on SimpleCV 1.0 Released!)

I’ve been so busy lately that I have had no time to write about all the projects I have been working on. Today I want to take a moment to announce the release of SimpleCV 1.0 by Ingenuitas. SimpleCV is shipped as a super pack that installs SimpleCV and all of the dependencies in a single shot on all of the most common operating systems(OSX, Windows, and Linux). The Ingenuitas team has been working hard to implement most the common image processing tasks one would need to do machine inspection; and to make the process of developing applications that use these operations as quick and painless as possible. This is a big milestone for us as it means we feel that we have a good initial feature set and we can start adding more advanced features to SimpleCV, features you won’t find in OpenCV or on the existing for-pay machine inspection systems. In our next development scrum I plan to roll out a whole host of new features that make it easy to perform image based classification tasks, and to make a first pass at camera calibration and measurement tasks. Our next release will also provide much tighter integration with the Microsoft Kinect. We are also going to work up quite a few really cool demos of SimpleCV for the Detroit Makers Faire and the World Makers Faire in New York City. The video above is a dry run of one of our demos at the Ann Arbor Makers Faire. This demo is shipped with SimpleCV so feel free to download the source code and give it a shot.

Big Announcement

March 21st, 2011 | Posted by admin in Ann Arbor | automation | Automation Alley | computer vision | entrepreneurship | industrial computing | Ingenuitas | manufacturing | Michigan | Open Source - (Comments Off on Big Announcement)

I am on my way back to New York from Michigan and it is time to make it official. I have accepted the position of Director of Research and Development at Ingenuitas in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ingenuitas will be working though the summer to develop an open source hardware/software product for manufacturing inspection systems. We plan on having a demonstration of our early results in September. I will focus specifically on developing an easy to use computer vision system that brings a number of emerging computer vision techniques to the machine inspection domain. I will also seeking potential investors from the New York technology community. We hope to demonstrate that open source has the potential to dramatically reduce manufacturing costs and empower smaller companies to use techniques and quality control measures that were until recently only available to larger manufacturers. The Ingenuitas team also includes my friends Anothny Oliver and Nate Oostendorp. I am really excited for this team as I think we have the perfect mix of skills and experience to get this venture off the ground. Furthermore I am ecstatic to be working on an open source project that has the potential to dramatically change both computer vision and manufacturing for the better. I will post more thoughts about this project when I get a chance.