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Evaluating time-of-flight sensors using an industrial robot - Martin Müllenhaupt

Illustration of the setup

Time-of-flight (ToF) sensors experience a recent burst of advancement, due to the progress made in semiconductor production. They are about to become off-the-shelf compact devices delivering depth maps of high resolution and frame rate. Numerous applications will benefit from this progress in different domains like industry automation or video gaming. A relatively new type of ToF sensors is based on the Photonic Mixer Device (PMD). Using a modulated, incoherent light source, this sensor type promises low-cost and real-time distance acquisition. But error studies have shown that a variety of systematic errors distort the measurements of PMD sensors. These errors for example depend on the distance or pixel coordinates. A comprehensive error study requires a lot of effort, because various different camera to target positions have to be measured. This work attempts to tackle the task of developing a method of efficiently recording calibration data for a PMD sensor by using an industrial robot. An industrial robot with its fast movements, high accuracy and good working range is a suitable device for measurements of this type. With the help of a robot, comprehensive calibration data was recorded. The data was analyzed and compared to results of related work. A module for real-time correction of the camera data was developed. It reduces the average depth error from 162.3mm to 17.3mm. This work finishes with holding out the prospect of calibrating the camera without reference data.

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