Movement and Force Measurement Systems as a Foundation for Biomimetic Research on Insects
Thesis DisciplineElectrical Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Engineering
During the undertaken research and development, two major systems were designed. These were; a prototype force sensor, and a movement measurement system. Both the developed systems were designed for the intended field of insect research, but were developed using very different underlying principles. The force measurement system uses the piezo-electric effect induced in piezo-electric bimorph elements to produce a measure of force exerted on the sensor. The movement measurement system on the other hand uses computer vision (CV) techniques to find and track the three dimensional (3D) position of markers on the insect, and thereby record the pose of the insect.
To further increase the usefulness of the two measurement systems, a prototype graphical user interface (GUI) was produced to encapsulate the functionality of the systems and provide an end user with a more complete and functional research tool. The GUI allows a user to easily define the parameters required for the CV operations and presents the results of these operations to the user in an easily understood visual format. The GUI is also intended to display force measurements in a graphical means to make them easily interpreted. The GUI has been named Weta Evaluation Tracking and Analysis (WETA).
Testing on the developed prototype force sensor shows that the piezo-electric bimorph elements provide an adequate measure of force exerted on them, when the voltage signal produced by an element is integrated. Furthermore, the testing showed that the developed force sensor layout produces an adequate measure of forces in the two horizontal linear degrees of freedom (DOF), but the prototype did not produce a good measure of forces in the vertical linear DOF.
Development and testing of the movement measurement system showed that stereo vision techniques have the ability to produce accurate measurements of 3D position using two cameras. Although, when testing these techniques with one of the cameras replaced by a mirror, the system produced less than satisfactory results. Further testing on the feature detection and tracking portions of the movement system showed that even though these systems were implemented in a relatively simple way, they were still adequate in their associated operations. However, it was found that with some simple changes in colour spaces used during feature detection, the performance of the feature detection system in varying illumination was greatly improved. The tracking system on the other hand, operated adequately using just its associated basic principles.
During the development of both prototype measurement systems, a number of conclusions were formulated that indicated areas of future development. These areas include; advanced force sensor configurations, force sensor miniaturisation, design of a force plate, improvement of feature detection and tracking, and refining of the stereo vision equipment.