A new method for range estimation using simple infrared sensors
We describe a new method for position estimation of planar surfaces using simple, low-cost infrared (IR) sensors. The intensity data acquired with IR sensors depends highly on the surface properties and the configuration of the sensors with respect to the surface. Therefore, in many related studies, either the properties of the surface are determined first or certain assumptions about the surface are made to estimate the distance and the orientation of the surface relative to the sensors. We propose a novel method for position estimation of surfaces with IR sensors without the need to determine the surface properties first. The method is considered to be independent of the type of surface encountered since it is based on searching the position of the maximum value of the intensity data rather than using absolute intensity values. The method is verified experimentally with planar surfaces of different surface properties. An intelligent feature of our system is that its operating range is made adaptive based on the maximum intensity of the detected signal. The absolute mean range error for the method resulting in the lowest errors is 0.15 cm over the range from 10 to 50 cm. The cases where the azimuth and elevation angles are nonzero are considered as well. The results obtained demonstrate that IR sensors can be used for localization to an unexpectedly high accuracy without prior knowledge of the surface characteristics. © 2005 IEEE.