Robust hand-eye calibration of 2D laser sensors using a single-plane calibration artefact

When a vision sensor is used in conjunction with a robot, hand-eye calibration is necessary to determine the accurate position of the sensor relative to the robot. This is necessary to allow data from the vision sensor to be defined in the robot's global coordinate system. For 2D laser line sensors hand-eye calibration is a challenging process because they only collect data in two dimensions. This leads to the use of complex calibration artefacts and requires multiple measurements be collected, using a range of robot positions. This paper presents a simple and robust hand-eye calibration strategy that requires minimal user interaction and makes use of a single planar calibration artefact. A significant benefit of the strategy is that it uses a low-cost, simple and easily manufactured artefact; however, the lower complexity can lead to lower variation in calibration data. In order to achieve a robust hand-eye calibration using this artefact, the impact of robot positioning strategies is considered to maintain variation. A theoretical basis for the necessary sources of input variation is defined by a mathematical analysis of the system of equations for the calibration process. From this, a novel strategy is specified to maximize data variation by using a circular array of target scan lines to define a full set of required robot positions. A simulation approach is used to further investigate and optimise the impact of robot position on the calibration process, and the resulting optimal robot positions are then experimentally validated for a real robot mounted laser line sensor. Using the proposed optimum method, a semi-automatic calibration process, which requires only four manually scanned lines, is defined and experimentally demonstrated.