An Investigation of the Feasibility of Using Video-Based Motion Measurement for Recovering Helicopter Blade Kinematics
Award last edited on: 4/28/2006

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
DOD : Army
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
James S Walton

Company Information

4D Video (AKA: 4DVideo)

825 Gravenstein Highway North Suite 4
Sebastopol, CA 95472
   (707) 829-8883
Location: Single
Congr. District: 02
County: Sonoma

Phase I

Contract Number: ----------
Start Date: ----    Completed: ----
Phase I year
Phase I Amount
Traditionally, kinematic measurements have been made using electro-mechanical transducers which produce a signal which is proportional to the parameter being measured. This approach is unlikely to be replaced by optical tracking techniques, but there are many instances where it is impractical (or even impossible) to attach a mechanical device to the subject. The blades of a helicopter rotor are an excellent case-in-point. While a better understanding of blade kinematics is fundamental to the design of the aircraft, it is difficult to recover three-dimensional kinematics by traditional means under operational conditions. 4D Video believes that an image-based motion measurement system can be used to quantify the rigid-body dynamics of helicopter rotor blades under operational conditions. We propose to investigate the most appropriate means for achieving this objective. Our purpose is to develop a specification which will form the foundation of an SBIR Phase II proposal to develop new hardware and software to perform the required tasks. For the purpose of the present proposal, our effort will focus on two issues: sample-rate, and the development of a customized (circular) tracking algorithm which will take maximum advantage of the predominant motions of the rotor blades. However, other issues have been identified and will be addressed.


Phase II

Contract Number: ----------
Start Date: ----    Completed: ----
Phase II year
Phase II Amount
During Phase I of the present investigation, 4D Video examined the potential for using a video-based motion measurement system for examining helicopter blade kinematics. A detailed specification was developed and the feasibility of the task evaluated. 4D Video is now proposing to develop a working prototype of the system, which will allow the Army to acquire kinematic data which cannot be recovered using traditional electro-mechanical transducers. Furthermore, we have developed a design which can be readily adapted for commercial applications. Of particular concern were the raw spatial and temporal resolution of the data. Using specifications provided by the Army, we determined that a suitable system would be required to operate at 1000 frames per second and have a raw spatial resolution of at least 512 x 512. 4D Video has described a means for recovering Regions of Interest (ROI's) from such images, in real-time, using dedicated video capture units. These ROI's will be processed by photogrametric algorithms embedded in a software package written for the Windows NT operating system. Much of the required equipment already exists in the marketplace. However, extensive development is required in tow areas: the digital logic required to identify, extract and store ROI's in real-time, and user-friendly software required to process these data efficiently. 4D Video has broad experience in the field of image-based motion measurement. We have identified a variety of potential markets for the new product.

There are a wide variety of potential applications for the proposed product. Among those disciplines showing particular promise are: oceanography, marine biology, noise and vibration, vehicle dynamics, product design and development, flight-test engineering, materials testing, ergonomics, biomechanics, blasting technology, animation and experimental mechanics. In brief, any activity where motion can be found.