Unified characterization of imaging sensors from visible through longwave IR The use of minimum resolvable contrast measurements enables a uniform approach to characterizing imaging sensor performance in the visible, near-IR, and shortwave IR spectral ranges. Modern reconnaissance strategies are based on gathering information from sensors that operate in several spectral bands. Besides the well-known atmospheric windows at the visible (VIS), medium-wave IR, and longwave-IR (LWIR) wavelengths, today's detectors can also operate in the 1–1.7μm window known as shortwave IR (SWIR). SWIR cameras are especially useful in the hazy or misty atmospheric conditions typical of a maritime environment. For optimum application of SWIR cameras, as well as detectors in other bands, it would be useful to have a single, uniform method of characterizing the various sensors. One way to provide such characterization is to use minimum resolvable contrast (MRC) measurements. MRC is a measure of a system's sensitivity and its ability to resolve data. It was pioneered by John Johnson in the late 1950s when he first described the probability of detecting an object as dependent on the object's effective resolution.1 This intuitive idea showed that the probability of locating a target increases with the number of resolvable cycles across that target. Johnson's analysis was initially used to assist the design of image intensifier tubes, which increase the intensity of light in optical systems where there is limited light available. Later—with the growing importance of day sight (surveillance) cameras—Johnson's work was revived by developers who used MRC measurements to assess electro- optical systems. SWIR imaging makes use of the radiation reflected by observed objects in the same way that visible imaging does. It is therefore possible to use MRC methods to characterize SWIR imaging.2 We have employed MRC measurements to determine the ability of a camera system to resolve detail contrast in the visible spectrum in relation to range and luminance. The system (optics, detector, electronics, display, and the observer's eye) captures a collimated USAF 1951 resolution test chart in front of an adjustable light source (see Figure 1). The USAF target is a widely accepted test pattern created by the US Air Force, and consists of groups of three bars with different dimensions, from large to small. The imager's resolving power is defined as the largest bar in the pattern that it cannot discern. We used a sequence of USAF targets—which had different contrast values in the bar pattern structure—to establish an MRC curve as a function of spatial frequency. We input the recorded values into visual range model (VRM) software,3 which calculated the ranges of the camera system. The output is presented as a graph that shows contrast to spatial frequency at a given luminance. Figure 1. Setup used for measuring minimum resolvable contrast (MRC). Setup used for measuring minimum resolvable contrast (MRC). 3 The targets are mounted in front of a light source with specified luminance. The outcoming light is collimated by a parabolic mirror and directed into the aperture of the camera under test. The camera is fixed on a rotatable arm to allow measurements under different angles of incidence. To take experimental MRC measurements, we used a light bulb with a temperature of 3000K as the visible light source. This temperature is considerably lower than that of our key visible light source—the Sun—which radiates with a source temperature of 5777K and emits a different spectrum (see Figure 2). Thus, to compare the amount of light in the VIS band with that in the SWIR and near-IR (NIR) bands, we evaluated correction factors for NIR and SWIR from the calculated integrals of the light distribution in the corresponding bands. We realized our measurements using the patterns taken by two different cameras (see Table 1). The first camera had one HD color sensor with a switchable optical filter, which enables VIS and NIR imaging. The second realizes simultaneous imaging on two image sensors, and thus enables recording of VIS and SWIR images. The results of the MRC values are shown in Figure 3.4 We used these values to make a range of calculations in VRM3 for a maritime atmosphere. The achievable ranges are shown in Figure 4. Figure 2. Relative spectral emittance (I) in the visible (VIS), near-IR (NIR), and shortwave IR (SWIR) wavelength bands in sunlight and under a halogen bulb. Figure 3. Measured MRC values. The diagram shows the contrast of targets of Table 1 as a function of the spatial resolution for the spectral ranges VIS, NIR, and SWIR. Notably, the spatial resolution of the SWIR sensor is three times lower than the other two. Figure 4. Calculated ranges for detection (D), recognition (R), and identification (I) in the VIS, NIR, and SWIR wavelengths based on the measured MRC data from Table Calculated ranges for detection (D), recognition (R), and identification (I) in the VIS, NIR, and SWIR wavelengths based on the measured MRC data from Table 1 In summary, we have described a single approach based on MRC measurements to characterize the performance of imaging sensors in the VIS, NIR, and SWIR spectral ranges. We demonstrated measurement of MRC for all three types of sensors, showing that this approach has potential for use in real-world devices. Our method would enable a reliable base from which to make a range of calculations under all kinds of atmospheric conditions. In future work, we will apply MRC methods to assess commercial camera devices and to create consistent assessment parameters for multi-camera observation platforms, such as those in submarines and tank periscopes. Airbus DS Optronics Martin Gerken is a project manager who holds responsibility for the development of a day sight zoom camera for operation in spectral ranges from VIS to SWIR. He holds a doctor's degree in nuclear physics with synchrotron radiation from the University of Hamburg. Harry Schlemmer obtained a diploma in physics from the Technical University of Hannover in 1978, and completed a PhD thesis on investigations of two-photon amplification in coupled laser systems. He was group manager for spectral analysis at Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen, from 1981 until 1992, and was later manager of the optical technology research and development department. Since 2008 he has been principal scientist for optical technology and systems design at Airbus DS Optronics. Mario Münzberg is director of the Imaging Devices Department, where he is responsible for the cross-functional development of all imaging modules and devices that are sensitive in the VIS, near-IR, SWIR, and IR spectral bands. He holds a doctor's degree in physics from the Institute of Applied Physics in Erlangen, Germany. 2. M. Gerken, H. Schlemmer, H. Haan, C. Siemens, M. Münzberg, Characterization of SWIR cameras by MRC measurements, Proc. SPIE 9071, p. 907110, 2014. doi:10.1117/12.2052928 4. M. Gerken, H. Schlemmer, M. Mnzberg, Unified characterization of imaging sensors from visible through longwave IR, Proc. SPIE 9820, p. 98200G, 2016. doi:10.1117/12.2224182
CERN, found success in a simple idea: Invest in a laboratory that no one institution could sustain on their own and then make it accessible for physicists around the world. Astronomers have done the same with telescopes, while neuroscientists are collaborating to build brain imaging observatories. Now, in Trends in Plant Science on January 5, agricultural researchers present their vision for how a similar idea could work for them. Rather than a single laboratory, the authors want to open a network of research stations across Europe--from a field in Scotland to an outpost in Sicily. Not only would this provide investigators with easy access to a range of different soil properties, temperatures, and atmospheric conditions to study plant/crop growth, it would allow more expensive equipment (for example, open-field installations to create artificial levels of carbon dioxide) to be a shared resource. "Present field research facilities are aimed at making regional agriculture prosperous," says co-author Hartmut Stützel of Leibniz Universität Hannover in Germany. "To us, it is obvious that the 'challenges' of the 21st century--productivity increase, climate change, and environmental sustainability--will require more advanced research infrastructures covering a wider range of environments." Stützel and colleagues, including Nicolas Brüggemann of Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany and Dirk Inzé of VIB and Ghent University in Belgium, are just at the beginning of the process of creating their network, dubbed ECOFE (European Consortium for Open Field Experimentation). The idea was born last February at a meeting of Science Europe and goes back to discussions within a German Research Foundation working group starting four years ago. Now, they are approaching European ministries to explore the possibilities for ECOFE's creation. In addition to finding financial and political investment, ECOFE's success will hinge on whether scientists at the various institutional research stations will be able to sacrifice a bit of their autonomy to focus on targeted research projects, Stützel says. He likens the network to a car sharing service, in which researchers will be giving up the autonomy and control of their own laboratories to have access to facilities in different cities. If ECOFE catches on, thousands of scientists could be using the network to work together on a range of "big picture" agricultural problems. "It will be a rather new paradigm for many traditional scientists, but I think the communities are ready to accept this challenge and understand that research in the 21st century requires these types of infrastructures," Stützel say. "We must now try to make political decision makers aware that a speedy implementation of a network for open field experimentation is fundamental for future agricultural research."
Underlying the term Industrie 4.0 is the idea that in the factory of the future, machines will communicate directly with each other, with workpieces and with human workers. The ultimate goal is for production to organize itself. Experts hope that Industrie 4.0 will provide a more flexible production setup and the ability to respond to customer wishes more quickly. It is precisely this goal that the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology IPK aims to achieve by putting people at the center. Human workers wield the power to make decisions about the production sequence, and receive help in making those decisions from high-performance tools. The Fraunhofer research scientists use gear manufacturing as an example to illustrate what this means. Presently, gears are manufactured in firmly linked lines that connect, say, milling machines and turning machines to each other in a chain. If one machine goes offline, the entire line shuts down. Another drawback with line production is that it is expensive and time-consuming, if not actually impossible, to execute small and very small orders that have special requirements or product features. "If you want production to be more flexible, it is a promising idea to break up the chains," says Eckhard Hohwieler, head of IPK's Production Machines and Systems Management department. "But that's harder than it sounds." One alternative to the line concept is workshop production. In this configuration, machines that carry out similar tasks are grouped together in cells – for example, several turning machines are clustered in a turning-machine cell or several milling machines become a milling-machine cell. However, as Hohwieler points out, "if you do that, you need methods that guarantee products will progress swiftly and reliably through the entire production process. Otherwise a work step may be left out or an order might get stuck halfway through production because no one knows where to send it next." Here's where IPK research comes in. At Hannover Messe 2016, the Berlin-based research team will present an integrated Industrie 4.0 factory that replaces fixed links with a new kind of process organization without sacrificing the reliability of line production. In this factory, IT driven tools ensure that employees at all hierarchy levels receive the information they need at any time in order to play their part in the punctual manufacturing of the product – whether it be in process management, production planning, or final assembly. One aspect of the factory will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on January 27. The iWePro project, which focuses on intelligent cooperation and networking for workshop production, brings together IPK engineers and industry partners to explore how gear manufacturing can be reliably managed on the shop floor without linking machines into chains. "Until now, the entire production process – all the way from the blank to a ready-to-use gear – was planned out in advance and then simply carried out," explains Franz Otto, a research fellow at IPK. To make it possible to manage workshop orders as the situation demands, he and his colleagues are currently developing an agent system that monitors implementation of the production plan. The agents – components of the agent system software – supply employees at the various workshop stations with information such as which machine is slated for the next processing step. They can also provide assistance when ad hoc rescheduling is required, for example if a machine stops working. "But before production cells can become a reality, we have to investigate whether they are in fact an alternative to conventional line production, which is already quite sophisticated," says Otto. To that end, iWePro generates an elaborate simulation that the researchers can run to determine which combination of centralized planning and flexible adaptation is suitable for which use case – which interventions by workers make sense. The simulation also addresses how to provide the necessary detailed information to workers on the shop floor; for example, by means of smart devices. The simulation of workshop production, to be shown during the Preview and later at Hannover Messe (Hall 17, Booth C18), creates a 3D image of all processes in produc-tion. "This echoes the view from a control station," explains Hohwieler. At Hannover Messe, the researchers will combine the simulation with a model-driven industry cockpit and a two-armed assembly robot. The cockpit enables managers to flexibly
News Article | February 6, 2016
A new 15 megawatt-hour energy storage system is being constructed by Daimler AG (with its subsidiary ACCUMOTIVE) and enercity (Stadtwerke Hannover) in Herrenhausen, Germany, according to recent reports. Interestingly, the energy storage facility will utilize around 3000 new electric vehicle (EV) battery packs to create its storage capacity — functioning, in addition to energy storage, as a spare parts storage facility for EV battery systems. Owing to the 15 megawatt-hour (MWh) storage capacity, the installation will be one of the biggest in Europe after completion. The facility will be placed on the German primary balancing energy market after completion. Daimler launched the third-generation smart fortwo electric drive in 2012; the next generation of the electric city car is now at the ready. Automakers prepare for the eventuality of battery failure, and have suitable replacements available. Partners Daimler, ACCUMOTIVE and enercity are now forging a unique path in terms of the efficient use of these available, but hitherto unused, resources. Through the “living storage” of the replacement batteries, they are creating a business case that, in this form, can only be achieved together by an automotive manufacturer and a power supply company. …The innovative storage concept has a further advantage, tha partners point out. To be usable in the event of being needed as a replacement in a vehicle, a battery requires regular cycling during its storage period — ie specific charging and discharging for the purpose of preservation. Otherwise it would suffer from deep discharging, which can lead to battery defects. In addition to the storage costs, the classic and potentially long-term storage of replacement batteries would therefore involve extremely high operating expenditure. The innovative approach adopted by the partners balancing power demand from the grid automatically ensures the required cycling of the batteries. Interesting points. A rep from Daimler’s R&D Communications, Future Powertrain, division, Madeleine Herdlitschka, commented that, since use in grid-balancing is very different from use in EVs, “If you use it ‘softly’, you don’t have to fear losses.” Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.” Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10. Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter. James Ayre 's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.
News Article | September 9, 2015
Joshua Drake, the researcher who found the so-called Stagefright vulnerability in Android, today released exploit code to the public, which he hopes will be used to test systems’ exposure to the flaw. The move comes more than a month after vulnerability details were released in August during presentations at the Black Hat and DEF CON security conferences in Las Vegas. Since then, Google has released updates that block the most serious exploit vector where an attacker could take over an Android device merely by sending it a malicious MMS message. Drake, vice president of platform research and exploitation at Zimperium zLabs, said in July the bug could affect more than 950 million Android devices. He chose not to publish exploit code at the time, giving Google time to push patches to the Android Open Source Project and subsequently to handset manufacturers and carriers. He originally planned to release exploit code on Aug. 24. Google, meanwhile, wasted no time in changing the way it releases security updates for Android, announcing at Black Hat that it would send monthly over-the-air updates its Nexus phones. The move was mirrored by others, including Samsung and LG, and the first Nexus updates included patches for Stagefright. Silent Circle also patched its Blackphone and Mozilla patched Firefox, which uses Stagefright code in the browser. Stagefright is the name of the media playback engine native to Android, and the vulnerabilities Drake discovered date back to version 2.2; devices older than Jelly Bean (4.2) are especially at risk since they lack exploit mitigations such as Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) that are present in newer versions of Android. The problem is that Stagefright is an over-privileged application with system access on some devices, which enables privileges similar to apps with root access. Stagefright is used to process a number of common media formats, and it’s implemented in native C++ code, making it simpler to exploit. “On some devices, [Stagefright] has access to the system group, which is right next to root—very close to root—so it should be easy to get root from system,” Drake told Threatpost in July. “And system runs a lot of stuff. You’d be able to monitor communication on the device and do nasty things. “That process, you would think, would be sandboxed and locked down as much as it could because it’s processing dangerous, risky code, but it actually has access to the Internet. Android has a group enforcement where it allows [Stagefright] to connect to the Internet. This service is on all Android devices. I’d rather not have a service that’s doing risky processing have Internet access.” An attacker can send a vulnerable device a specially crafted MMS or Google Hangouts message that exploits the flaw. The MMS does not have to be viewed or read, and can be deleted remotely by the attacker before the victim is aware the phone ever received it. “Google released new versions of Hangouts and Messenger to block automatic processing of multimedia files arriving via MMS. We’ve tested these updated versions and are happy to confirm they prevent unassisted remote exploitation,” Zimperium said today in a blog post. “However, this attack vector constituted only the worst of more than 10 different ways potentially malicious media is processed by the Stagefright library. With these other vectors still present, the importance of fixing issues within the code base remains very high.” Other researchers, meanwhile, found additional security issues using Stagefright as a starting point, including researcher from Exodus Intelligence that demonstrated one of the patches built and submitted by Drake was incomplete. Using the updated firmware on a Nexus 5 phone, Exodus’ Jordan Gruskovnjak developed an MP4 file that bypassed the patch. “They failed to account for an integer discrepancy between 32- and 64 bit,” Exodus founder Aaron Portnoy told Threatpost. “They’re not accounting for specific integer types, and [Gruskovnjak] was able to bypass the patch with specific values that cause a heap buffer allocated to overflow.” This bug has been patched in AOSP as have many of the other Stagefright issues, leading some to speculate that the next OTA update from Google could be one of biggest security fixes ever. “The most positive thing about our Stagefright research is waking the ecosystem and forcing it to realize updates must distribute more timely. Industry leading vendors clearly stated that they intend to provide security updates on a monthly basis,” Zimperium said. “Now that we are facing additional vulnerabilities, we’ll see for ourselves if our devices get these updates or not. In the meantime, updates addressing the initial set of issues we disclosed continue to roll out to affected devices.”