Relative alignment system for monitoring the motion of objects in real time

System uses two elements and a tiltmeter to discern between translation and rotation

Photonics Sensors

A scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory has invented a new method for monitoring the motion of a moving object with respect to a stationary object in real time, which has applications for industrial facilities and machines. The patented technology is available via patent license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

The basic features of the RASNIK technique for the (a) original three-element system and (b) the two-element system

Many industrial fabrication and assembly processes require very high-precision relative alignment of parts. Some systems have employed an alignment technique called RASNIK (Relative Alignment System of the Nikhef Institute), which uses three components to project the image of a finely detailed mask through a lens onto a small digital camera. Any motion in any of the three elements — mask, lens, and camera — will result in a corresponding movement of the projected image on the camera.

A Navy researcher has improved on the original RASNIK technique by integrating the mask and lens into a single component, as well as adding a tiltmeter to measure rotational movement. The two-element RASNIK system reduces one movement ambiguity by integrating the mask and lens, while the tiltmeter eliminates the challenge of discerning between pure translations and rotations. The alignment information can be displayed visually in real time, and the system provides good resolution in a low-cost, easily installable package for industrial uses.

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