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Research flying high at the University of Regina
Posted: October 2, 2012 3:00 p.m.
The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle captures a bird's-eye view of a mock accident scene. Photo: Faculty of Engineering
There was an odd looking aircraft hovering over an accident scene at the University of Regina on the weekend. Not to worry, the aircraft was an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), and the accident scene was staged as an exercise for Raman Paranjape, professor, Electronic Systems Engineering at the University of Regina, who is working with the RCMP on this new project.
Paranjape and a number of graduate students were gathering data to assist the RCMP in accident scene reconstruction.
“We want to make it easy for the RCMP to be able to measure distances in the accident scene,” said Paranjape. “This way they can measure the skid marks, and the distances between vehicles using images obtained from the UAV.”
The UAV has a camera attached to it that captures a bird's-eye view of the accident scene below. Paranjape says the current technology involves manually measuring all the critical distances using laser range scanners and measuring tape in order to analyze the accident scene. He says using UAV’s to capture images of the scene from above and advanced quantitative image-based technology based on photogrammetry, can lead to a huge improvement. First there is no danger that a measurement is missed, and second, the images can be analyzed later so that new measurements can be added if a new analysis is required. The unknown in this new approach is the accuracy and consistency of the image-based measurements when acquired from a flying UAV.
“It’s a better mousetrap," says Paranjape. "It’s a tool that can have very high consistency. If the technology becomes accepted in the long run, if something goes to trial, both the defense, as well as the prosecution, will have access to this new technology to fully investigate the accident scene."
Paranjape’s new project is a follow-up to a three-year Strategic grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) in which the Regina Police Service and the Canadian Police Research Centre (among others) were sponsors.