Vision 2016 highlights the latest trends and technology in machine vision
The Vision Show is the perfect venue to catch up with the latest moves, trends and launches in the traffic vision sector, and ITS International editor Colin Sowman highlights a few to start with…
Visitors to the Vision Show can view the latest equipment and applications from more than 400 exhibitors from 28 countries and witness the introduction of a plethora of new cameras, sensors, frame grabbers and applications. Cameras with everhigher pixel counts and frame rates will be on display along with software that enables easier integration of machine vision into a variety of systems – including the ITS, manufacturing and medical sectors. What is evident from a look round the exhibition hall is that the scope of Machine Vision technology is now truly spectacular, from drone-mounted units monitoring the condition of plants to reduce the use of pesticides to medical applications that identify skin cancer.
That said, vision-based transport-related applications remain a special case due to their particular demands of variable lighting conditions, fast-moving objects and exposure to the elements and vibration. Therefore not all cameras or systems are suitable for ITS applications and exhibitors with suitable products are displaying the Traffic Vision logo. Even with the field narrowed to equipment suitable for ITS applications, selecting the camera and systems best suited to a particular application can be difficult because there is often no read-across between different manufacturers’ specification sheets.
Baumer is adding a 12 megapixel version to its CX range
Realising this was a major impediment to end users selecting the most suitable equipment, the European Machine Vision Association (EMVA) initiated the EMVA 1288 standard which makes it easier to compare the cameras and image sensors of different vendors. This standard has been adopted worldwide and provides the basis for an objective characterisation of cameras and sensors by physical parameters.
It centres on the camera (without a lens) and introduces objective criteria for the rating of sensitivity, noise, spectral sensitivity, dark current, homogeneities and defective pixels and includes both area and line cameras with monochrome or colour sensors. In addition, one of the exhibitors, camera producer Allied Vison, has introduced its own series of videos to highlight some of the key questions that need to be asked before selecting a machine vision camera. It is displaying plenty of examples of vision hardware for visitors to view along with some interesting and varied case studies.
Canadian camera manufacturer Point Grey will use the Vision Show to launch a new 10 GigE camera family with global shutter CMOS technology and high data rates to maximise sensor resolutions and frame rates. The first model uses Sony’s Pregius IMX253 1.1” CMOS sensor with 12.3megapixel (4096 x 3000) resolution and supports 4K60 Ultra HD video while a 10 GigE interface enables raw image transmission at speeds up to 10 times faster than GigE with minimal latency and no compression artifacts. Usefully for transport agencies, the new camera can be connected to standard network switches and interface cards using Cat6A copper cable for long distance deployments.
Specim's FX10 hyperspectrial camera can be seen on the Stemmer Imaging stand
If that still doesn’t provide the necessary performance, Point Grey will also introduce its highest resolution camera to date, the 20 megapixel Blackfly S with Sony’s Exmor R IMX183 1” CMOS sensor. The sensor’s backilluminated architecture is said to increase efficiency and reduce read noise for improved sensitivity and dynamic range and is mounted in the 29 x 29 x 30mm Blackfly S camera housing. Other new products include 3D vision stereo technology and the company’s latest 360-deg spherical vision camera. Also upping the resolution is Baumer with a 12 megapixel version of its CX series which is fitted with Sony’s 4096 x 3000 Pregius sensor and provides 31 images per second.
The compact (29 x 29mm) camera body has a USB 3.0 interface and the combination of high resolution and speed with low dark noise and high (71dB) dynamic range makes the CX cameras well suited to traffic monitoring applications.
The plug & play USB cameras need only a single cable for high data transmission rates and can endure housing temperature up to 65°C while the integrated temperature sensor monitors the current operating temperature.
Tattile is exhibiting its range of bespoke ANPR (fixed and mobile), red light, speed and access cameras. At the Intertraffic exhibition earlier this year the company introduced its Vega Basic and Vega Smart ranges which are aimed at the transport sector. These complement a range of cameras with resolutions of between 1.3 and 5 megapixels, maximum reading distances of up to 30m and frame rates of between 25 and 100 frames per second (fps).
Gardasoft's TR-CL Series of single channel industrial Lens Controller
Another of the industry’s big names, Basler, aims to address some of the industry´s hot topics at the show and is inviting visitors to watch a live demonstration of its PGI incamera image optimisation. It is also exhibiting its industrial Time-of-Flight camera which not only records the image but also the distance to the imaged object.
Additions to its diminutive Go Series industrial CMOS cameras will be highlighted on Jai’s stand along with two new Sweep Series monochrome line scan units but as Traffic Vision went to press, the company hadn’t indicated what transport-related cameras and technology will be highlighted at the Vision Show.
Keeping pace with a race car must be one of the more appropriate tests for a traffic camera and one that Imaging Development Systems (IDS) will highlight on its stand to illustrate the prowess of the rolling shutter sensors used in its cameras. IDS uses Sony’s IMX178 high-resolution CMOS sensor which has a rolling shutter sensor, 6 megapixel resolution (3088 x 2076) at 60fps and model UI-3880LE is highlighted as particularly well suited for ITS applications.
Resolution and high shutter speeds are also a big factor for Matrix Vision as it incorporates Sony’s latest 9 and 12 megapixel Pregius sensors, which are well suited to ITS applications, in its MV Blue range. The mvBlueCougar-X109b, the Gigabit Ethernet version of the 9 megapixel sensor, has a 20.8Hz frame rate, slightly faster than the 12 megapixel sensor in the mvBlueCougar- X1012b which achieves 15.1Hz. In the mvBlueCougar-XD range the lower resolution version achieves a frame rate of 32.2Hz while the higher resolution version comes in at 23.4Hz and both do so in even when used as USB3 vision cameras.
SPAD (Single-Photon Avalanche Diodes) sensors used in applications like LiDAR for automotive, 3D-ranging, fluorescence lifetime imaging and surveillance, form the centrepiece of Fraunhofer’s display. The devices, which use 0.35μm CMOS technology, are said to offer a low dark count rate, high time resolution and a broad spectral range versatility which suits applications that rely on highly sensitive optical sensors. Light sensitivity down to singlephoton levels is said to be possible.
Active Silicon FireBird CL
Onboard technology is also a key theme for Pleora which is attracting increasing interest in its video interface products from the automotive sector - primarily for ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) applications. The company’s products are already used in toll monitoring and railway inspection and the enquiries from ADAS designers concern Ethernet interfaces for driver assistance, primarily for cabling and networking abilities, low latency and uncompressed video delivery.
Austria’s Institute of Technology will be at the Vision Show exhibiting advanced camera technology and self-learning IT systems. It has developed a sensing system that enables vehicles to capture their environment in 3D in real time for reliable and driver-independent navigation to improve road safety by supporting the driver it will ultimately enable the realisation of fully autonomous vehicles on the road, railways and aircraft as well as in construction and agricultural industries. The company is working with Bombardier to develop a driver assistance system for trams and the new technology recognises objects such as vehicles or people, to independently assess their hazard potential and respond appropriately.
For authorities unable to justify changing their old IP cameras for smart cameras, Vision Components may gave a solution in the form of it new Q-Board. This is said to convert existing IP cameras into intelligent cameras for ITS systems, while requiring very little extra space. According to the company’s Jan-Erik Schmitt, the Q-Board “supports almost all standard IP streaming protocols, video codecs and container formats.” The compact board is based on Arm’s ZYNQ Dual Core processor and features the Carrida ANPR/ALPR library which is said to identify even dirty, damaged or skewed license plates with an accuracy of more than 96%.
LIGHTING & PROCESSING
Vision Components is also introducing the VC Flash infrared lighting module which operates with a central wavelength of 850nm and has been developed specifically for traffic surveillance applications. With 24 high power LEDs, the module illuminates an area of 7.5m by 5m at a distance of 20m for mobile and stationary ANPR/ALPR applications, red light enforcement, access control and toll collection. Peak power is 36W and a trigger regulates pulse duration between 10-500μs and several VC Flash modules can be connected together to achieve even higher levels of illumination.
The VC Flash infrared forms part of the company’s modular ITS solution for traffic control which also comprises the Carrida Software Engine, Carrida Cam and the Q-Board detailed above. It says the solution is suitable for applications such as access control, toll and speed control, traffic analysis or fleet management.
Another innovation in the lighting sector is Gardasoft’s Triniti intelligent lighting platform which will be demonstrated at the show along with the new TR-CL series of single channel industrial lens controllers.
EuresysCoaxlink DuoPCIe104 board
Triniti automatically compensates for changes in light intensity by using the camera to continually measure the illumination of a defined part of the scene. This reading is then compared with a predetermined illumination bandwidth and the lighting controller output automatically adjusts in real time to maintain the LED intensity within the bandwidth. Active Silicon’s focus is on isolating images of errant drivers and in introducing the FireBird camera link Deca Low Profile range of CoaXPress and camera link frame grabbers. The new board meets the 2.0 Camera Link specification (both 8 bit 10-tap and 10 bit 8-tap modes) at clock rates up to 85MHz and can sustain throughputs of up to 1.7Gbytes/s. It is said to be applicable for virtually any machine vision application.
Another new CoaXPress board, this time from Euresys, is the ruggedised PCIe/104 for integration in computer systems used in harsh conditions (including transport applications) that require a high level of reliability and performance such as high-end surveillance. The unit can withstand temperatures between -40 to +85°C and provides a high speed interface between a camera and a frame grabber at up to 50 megapixels resolution and frame rates to 500fps.
An emerging technology which could have, as yet untapped, applications in the transport sector is hyperspectral imaging. An example of this technology can be seen in the Stemmer Imaging stand in the form of the FX10 hyperspectral camera from the Finnish manufacturer, Specim.
Hyperspectral imaging differs from normal visible, UV or IR image processing by using hundreds different wavelengths (between 400 and 1,000nm) and using a spectrograph to split light of many different wavelengths into its spectrum. This spectrum is then captured by the camera’s sensors and allows an analysis of the inspected objects. If all 220wavelengths are captured then the FX10’s maximum capture speed is around 330fps. If only 20 wavelengths are captured the frame rate rises to 2,830 fps and can reach 6510fps if 5 wavelengths are selected in 3 different ranges.
Stemmer is also working with Austrian company Perception Park and has developed a solution for hyperspectral imaging in the short-wave infrared range (900 to 1,700nm).
London Underground is now using visual monitoring of the wheel/rail interface and the track through the use of 104 industrial cameras mounted directly onto the trains thanks to some packaging work by Stemmer Imaging. Stemmer developed the bespoke enclosures to house a 120fps Teledyne Dalsa camera equipped with an IR filter, an 840nm LED IR illumination source, Gardasoft’s integrated controller with fibre optic triggering and the power management and conditioning system.
The enclosures are electrically solated and IP65 certified while the sub-assemblies are shock rated to 5G for continuous load (shaking) and 50G for drop.
Two trains on each line are instrumented with two cameras: one mounted on the bogey to provide information on the wheel-rail interface and the second fitted at the end of the carriage to provide a 4’ view of the running and conductor rails. Spatial triggering provides images at set distances apart and the high speed (40μs) pulsed illumination freezes the relative movement between the train-mounted cameras and the track. IR illumination was chosen to avoid interference from ambient light (part of the rail network is above ground) and in order that the rapidly pulsed IR illumination does not cause problems for people suffering from epilepsy or photosensitivity.
Image data is collected during normal working hours and uploaded by Wi-Fi for analysis at night using data recording and image processing methods developed by London Underground. This maximised the time available during the 4-hour night closure period to maintain the network’s 1,000km of track.
One of the biggest talking points at Vision will be the recent takeover of two of the big names in the sector: Point Grey Research and Gardasoft Vision.
Last month, US-headquartered thermal imaging specialists Flir agreed a $253 million deal to buy the Canadian camera manufacturer Point Grey Research. Along with other applications, Point Grey’s visual imaging system are used in ITS, people counting and advanced mapping systems and the acquisition will add a broad range of visible spectrum cameras to Flir’s thermal sensor technology. The business will be renamed FLIR’s Integrated Imaging Solutions.
In May the UK-based lighting specialist Gardasoft Vision announced it was to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Japanese sensing technology specialists Optex. Gardasoft will continue to trade and promote its pulse/strobe controllers for LED lighting and high intensity LED illuminators under its existing name and branding including its Triniti technology.