GPS has been a boon for the world of transportation in general and for the robotics industry in particular. Despite this, robots have failed to permeate our world. They still lose track of where they are and as we see in the news both military and commercial drones fall out of the sky. After years of using robots to solve difficult, real world problems such as landmine detection, mapping out the hazardous chemicals and detecting radiation, 5D came to realize that reliable, useful behavior is dependent on accurate positioning. GPS lacks accuracy and doesn’t work indoors. For instance, GPS systems often still think you are on the highway, even after you take an exit. Vision and laser systems can be used to aid in localization and 5D has incorporated a great deal of those technologies to aid in navigation. Unfortunately, neither lasers nor cameras can see around corners and are easily disrupted by dust, rain, snow, and dynamic environments. This lack of reliability reduces value of mobile robots across the board and impacts hopes of more efficient, autonomous driving.
To address this problem, 5D created and patented a technology that provides reliable, centimeter level accuracy and reliable behavior in any environment. The 5D module embodies this technology, including an innovative Ultra-Wideband necessary to provide accurate position, orientation and behavior software for safety and autonomous navigation. The reliability and accuracy have been proven for landmine detection, squad support missions and hazmat environments for both ground vehicles and drones in the military. Now we are bringing the technology into a variety of commercial environments starting with heavy equipment and moving towards intelligent transportation. The technology can go onto people, robots, drones, automotive systems and anything else you might want to track.
There are two complementary ways to use the 5D module. The first uses relative positioning to allow safe motion, obstacle avoidance, follow, wagon training and a host of vehicle to vehicle applications. In this relative frame of reference the modules link to each other without any dependence on GPS or a global reference frame and no modules are necessary in the infrastructure. Like neurons in the brain, modules that support a particular function work together and specific clusters of modules can dedicate themselves to a particular function while still maintaining recursive awareness to a larger ecosystem.
The second way to use the technology is as an absolute position reference where modules in the environment can be a GPS enhancement. In this model, applications designed around GPS can work as intended, but with much higher reliability and accuracy. With the 5D module it is possible to accurately judge follow distance and perform predictive braking. Within minutes, it is possible to add the modules to just about any environment. We anticipate building modules into light fixtures, traffic lights and roadside equipment. We are already contracted to move the technology into a variety of heavy equipment applications for forklifts, scissor lifts and other equipment. The technology has the ability to impact construction, mining, logistics and energy sectors. In the burgeoning drone world, 5D has shown that we can replace or enhance existing GPS dependency, allowing drones to provide more accurate surveying, mapping and data collection for surveillance, security and inspection.
One of the most exciting future opportunities is smart mobility applications. Beginning in closed environments like campuses and resorts, off-highway personal mobility systems can meet you wherever you need a lift and drive you on dedicated routes to your destination using existing paths. You never have to go somewhere to pick it up or drop it off. It just goes on to the next closest person who needs a lift. Across all these applications, the 5D modules provide a crosscutting, interoperable solution and help us create intelligent ecosystems where everything is safer and more efficient. The benefits extend not only to robotics, but also include big data analytics where the 5D modules provide the ability to collect and accurately position a variety of data. The precision of this data allows for both analysis and prediction at a level never before possible, allowing increased efficiency and awareness across countless applications.