Available Technology

Synchronized target subsystem for automated docking systems

A synchronized target subsystem for use in an automated docking or station keeping system for docking a chase vehicle with a target vehicle wherein the chase vehicle is provided with a video camera which provides adjacent frames each having a predetermined time duration. A light source mounted on the target vehicle flashes at a frequency which has a time duration which is a multiple of the duration time of the frames, the light being on for at least one frame duration and being off for the remainder of the cycle. An image processing unit is connected to the camera for receiving signals from the camera and subtracting one of the adjacent frames from the other to detect whether the light appears in one frame, both frames or neither frame. If the target light appears in both frames or neither frame, the image processing unit feeds a signal to a timing circuit to advance the video camera one frame. This process is continued until the target light appears in one frame and not in the other, at which time the process of advancing the video camera is stopped.
Inventors: 

Michael L. Book, Thomas C. Bryan, Richard T. Howard

Patent Number: 
US6091345
Patent Issue Date: 
August 18, 2000
Agency
NASA
Region
Southeast
State: 
Alabama
Lab Representatives
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