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HALCON Flies with NASA-Robot into Space

MVTec Software GmbH

At the end of November 2010, the first humanoid robot astronaut flied into space, the Robonaut 2 (R2) which was jointly developed by the NASA and General Motors. R2 takes its visual decisions with the imaging software HALCON by MVTec (Munich, Germany).

The Discovery will be launched as mission STS-133 to its very last space flight. Destination of this shuttle mission is the international space station ISS. On board of the Discovery are six human astronauts and one new colleague, the first of its "species": It is the first humanoid robot in space ever, the so-called Robonaut 2 (R2). Amongst others, the Discovery carries an Italian multi-purpose module called Leonardo in its cargo bay. R2 travels safely cased in a special container inside of Leonardo.The Robonaut 2 (R2) sees what it is doing thanks to HALCON's image processing. NASA astronaut Michael Barrett, mission specialist of STS-133, shakes hand with R2 harmlessly. Left, NASA project manager Ron Diftler looks on amused.

The Robonaut 2 is able to see autonomously and due to this fact to independently take decisions. The robot astronaut has full functional camera eyes and hands used for gripping and working. R2 comes with these skills as a result of the sophisticated image processing which was developed by the NASA with the algorithms of the standard software HALCON by MVTec (Munich, Germany). 

The software package HALCON includes all necessary technologies for 3D image processing. It is used to detect objects in their 3D pose from stereo images and to process in real time. Thus, R2 can see three-dimensionally and therefore decide in fractions of a second where and how its hands will pick up and deposit objects.

During a first testing phase in space, the robot will work in a lab. Later, R2 will assist human astronauts for inside working, and some day it will even be available for extra vehicular activity. R2 will be advanced in this way that a next generation could assume interplanetary travels and take a landing on the Moon, the Mars, or a Mars moon. At this stage, HALCON is already armed for this purpose.

About HALCON
HALCON is the comprehensive standard software for machine vision with an integrated development environment (IDE) that is used worldwide. It leads to cost savings and improved time to market: HALCON’s flexible architecture facilitates rapid development of machine vision, medical imaging, and image analysis applications. HALCON provides outstanding performance and a comprehensive support of multi-core platforms, MMX and SSE2, as well as GPU acceleration. It serves all industries with a library of more than 1600 operators for blob analysis, morphology, matching, measuring, identification, and 3D vision, to name just a few. HALCON secures your investment by supporting a wide range of operating systems and providing interfaces to hundreds of industrial cameras and frame grabbers, including GenICam, GigE Vision, and IIDC 1394. More information: www.halcon.com.

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