US 20060048845 A1
An assembly is disclosed that facilitates monitoring one or more aircraft that are on the ground at an airport or other facility. The assembly includes a web based camera that can pan, tilt and zoom, as well as a base that can pan independent of the movement of the camera. The assembly can be selectively affixed to any aircraft service vehicle, such as a fuel truck, to monitor one or more the craft during processes such as fueling, baggage or passenger unloading, and the like. The camera can be operated remotely and/or from the service vehicle to provide relatively constant surveillance of the aircraft. The camera is housed within a protective environmental chamber so that the assembly can be utilized outdoors substantially indefinitely.
1. An assembly configured for selective mounting to an aircraft service vehicle, comprising:
a camera having one or more of tilt, pan and zoom capabilities;
a base to which the camera is operatively associated, the base having pan capabilities;
means for selectively mounting the assembly to the aircraft service vehicle; and
an environmental chamber operatively associated with the base and enveloping the camera.
2. The assembly of
3. The assembly of
4. The assembly of
5. The assembly of
6. The assembly of
a transceiver that facilitates transmitting output data and receiving input data.
7. The assembly of
8. The assembly of
9. The assembly of
10. The assembly of
11. The assembly of
12. The assembly of
13. The assembly of
14. The assembly of
15. The assembly of
16. The assembly of
17. The assembly of
18. The assembly of
19. The assembly of
20. The assembly of
21. The assembly of
22. The assembly of
23. The assembly of
24. The assembly of
a controller that arbitrates between local and remote commands, where local commands serve to control the camera and/or base from the aircraft service vehicle and remote commands serve to control the camera and/or base from locations remote from the aircraft service vehicle.
25. The assembly of
26. The assembly of
a local access point operatively associated with the controller that facilitates transmission of the remote commands and receipt and display of video data from the camera via the controller; and
a remote access point operatively associated with the controller that facilitates transmission of the remote commands and receipt and display of video data from the camera via the controller.
27. The assembly of
a control enabling device within the aircraft service vehicle; and
a display within the aircraft service vehicle.
28. The assembly of
29. The assembly of
a power conditioning component that facilitates converting power from one or more batteries to respective formats usable by at least one of the camera, base, controller, local access point and remote access point.
30. The assembly of
31. The assembly of
a fueling control system operatively associated with the controller, wherein the fueling control system regulates fueling of an aircraft by the aircraft service vehicle and acquires fueling attribute data and provides the fueling attribute data to a display device via the controller.
32. The assembly of
33. The assembly of
34. The assembly of
35. A system adapted to monitor one or more aircraft from an aircraft service vehicle with which the system is operatively associated, the system comprising:
a multi-port hub operatively associated with at least one of a camera and a base, where the camera is operatively associated with the base and the camera is configured to at least one of pan, tilt and zoom, and the base is configured to pan;
a wireless access point operatively associated with the multi-port hub, the wireless access point serving as a point of presence for a wireless network within which the system is operated and allowing one or more remote devices to send data to and receive data from at least one of the camera and base.
36. The system of
a local camera control operatively associated with at least one of the camera and base and facilitating control over at least one of the camera and base, the local camera control being located in the aircraft service vehicle.
37. The system of
a local display operatively associated with the camera for displaying camera data to a user within the vehicle.
38. The system of
a fueling control system operatively associated with the multi-port hub, wherein the fueling control system regulates fueling of an aircraft by the aircraft service vehicle and acquires fueling attribute data, wherein one or more remote devices can at least one of receive the attribute data and control the fueling control system via the wireless access point.
39. The system of
a diversity antenna operatively associated with the wireless access point.
40. The system of
a power conditioning component that facilitates converting power from one or more batteries to respective formats usable by at least one of the camera, base, wireless access point and multi-port hub.
41. The system of
an environmental housing operatively associated with the base and substantially isolating the camera from an external environment.
42. The system of
one or more sensors operable to sense environmental conditions within the housing; and
one or more environmental controls operative to adapt one or more environmental conditions within the chamber in response to one or more readings taken by one or more of the sensors.
43. The system of
means for selectively mounting the camera, base and housing to the aircraft service vehicle.
44. The system of
The present invention's focus is on monitoring aircraft while on the ground, in particular, during processes such as fueling.
Substantial resources go into owning and operating an aircraft. There is the large capital cost associated with purchasing an aircraft, as well as substantial expenses associated with fueling, staffing, and servicing the aircraft. Given so large an investment, it would be highly desirable to be able to monitor what's going on around the aircraft when it is in a static state. Monitoring would include visual security and assurance that those who fuel and/or otherwise service the aircraft do so without effecting damage. Specifically, it would be very desirable to monitor the fueling process that all aircraft require, so as to be able to discern whether fuel loss takes place or damage is caused to the aircraft (otherwise referred to as one type of “hanger rash”) during this type of operation. Similarly, given the cost and stringent requirements of both airline and general aviation fueling operations, it would be desirable to be able to monitor fueling attributes, such as fuel flow rates, what individual(s) are performing or otherwise involved with the fueling operation, etc. Further, given the nefarious intentions of some individuals (e.g., terrorists), it is very important to be able to keep a constant eye on the aircraft, in particular the embarkation or deplaning process, the loading and/or unloading of baggage, and “on-the-ramp” maintenance procedures, all by way of example. Finally, given the fact that aircraft operate at night and during inclement weather, it is desirable to have such monitoring capabilities proximate to the aircraft.
The following presents a summary of the invention and its purpose. This summary is not as an extensive overview of the invention, rather, it is intended to simply identify its key or critical elements. A more detailed description is presented later.
The present invention relates to the monitoring of an aircraft when the aircraft is in a grounded or static state. The aircraft may be monitored at all times, including: the fueling process, during maintenance operations, when passengers of air freight are being loaded and/or unloaded, as well as when the aircraft is merely residing on a runway or within a hanger, etc. According to one or more aspects of the present invention, an assembly is provided that can be selectively attached to an aircraft service vehicle (called in the industry “ground service equipment (GSE),) such as a fuel truck. Said assembly includes a camera that is housed within a protective environmental chamber. As such, the assembly can be utilized outdoors in all types of weather.
The following description, with annexed drawings set forth and detail certain illustrative aspects and implementations of the invention. These are indicative of but a few of the various ways in which one or more aspects of the present invention may be employed. Other aspects, advantages and novel features of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention when considered in conjunction with the annexed drawings.
The present invention pertains to monitoring an aircraft, particularly where the aircraft is in a grounded or static condition. One or more aspects of the present invention will now be described with reference to drawing figures, wherein like reference numerals are used to refer to like elements throughout. It should be understood that the drawing figures and following descriptions are merely illustrative and that they should not be taken in a limiting sense. In the following description, for purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. It will be evident to one skilled in the art, however, that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. Thus, it will be appreciated that variations of the illustrated systems and methods apart from those illustrated and described herein may exist and that such variations are deemed as falling within the scope of the present invention and the appended claims.
The camera can, for example, be configured to automatically pan left and right within a certain range of motion 110 to provide surveillance of a particular aircraft, for example. Such automated action may occur, for example, when the service vehicle is not active (e.g., the vehicle's engine is turned off). For example, an algorithm can be implemented that causes the base to rotate through a 180 degree range of motion (e.g., 90 degrees left of center and 90 degrees right of center) when the vehicle is turned off. By way of further example, when the vehicle is started, control can automatically revert back to one or more individuals within the vehicle as well as to one or more individuals away from the vehicle so that the camera can be “manually” controlled. There may also be a manual override that allows an individual to have control over the system at any time. The base can, for example, be controlled to pan left and right by someone in the vehicle, such as through the use of a joystick or other type of controller, for example, whereas pan, tilt and zoom functions of the web based camera can be controlled (e.g., wirelessly) and/or from anywhere in the world via a controller or computing device operatively associated with the Internet, for example. It will be appreciated that the base also has the capability of being controlled remotely. Similarly, the camera can be controlled from within the cab. It will be appreciated that the movement capabilities of the base and web based camera provide two degrees of “surveying” freedom.
In the illustrated example, the camera 120 is outfitted with a (protocol compliant) transceiver 132 that facilitates the transfer of output data (e.g., image data, sensor data—discussed below, etc.) to an associated computer/controller 134, as well as the receipt of input data (e.g., control signals) from the associated computer/controller 134. Further, the camera 120 is positioned upon a base 136 that can also pan laterally from side to side/left to right 138. Although not illustrated, it will be appreciated that one or more motors, such as servo-motors, for example, are generally responsible for movement of the camera and the base. The base 136 also includes means 140 for selectively mounting the assembly to a service vehicle, such as the roof of a fuel truck, for example. It will be appreciated that the means 140 for mounting the assembly 104 includes, bolts, nuts, washers, screws, rivets, welds, snaps, clasps, buckles, tabs, hooks, latches, ropes, chords, lashings, glues, tapes, nails, adhesives, as well as any other types of items and/or arrangements, either alone or in combination, that can be utilized to selectively position the assembly onto the vehicle in a substantially stable manner. It will be appreciated that a slip ring (not shown) may be juxtaposed between the base 136 and the camera 120. The slip ring may be electrically conductive thereby serving to provide an electrical coupling between the camera 120 and base 136. In this manner, electrical power can be supplied to the camera 120 and electrical signals (e.g., control signals, digital images) can be input to and/or output from the camera 120 via the slip ring. This alleviates wiring needs and thus facilitates unobstructed rotation of the camera 120 on the base 136 (e.g., for a 360 degree pan).
According to one or more aspects of the present invention, the housing includes a plurality of environmental sensors with corresponding environmental controls. In the illustrated example, for instance, the housing 144 includes temperature 146, pressure 148 and humidity 150 sensors. These sensors are operative to sense respective environmental conditions within the chamber 144. Readings from these sensors may be transmitted (e.g., wirelessly) to a controller, such as controller 134 or another computer based controller, which then can use them to selectively adjust corresponding controls. For example, a heater 152, cooler/air-conditioner 154 and/or fan 156 can be selectively adjusted to regulate the temperature within the housing 144. Similarly, a humidifier 160 and/or de-humidifier 162 can be selectively controlled to adjust the moisture content within the housing 144. Likewise, a valve 164 can be opened and/or closed to varying degrees in order to control the pressure within the housing 144. Such controls may also be operated in conjunction with one another to achieve a desired goal. For example, the heater 152, de-humidifier 162 and valve 164 may be operated in conjunction with one another to achieve a desired level of moisture within the housing 144. Such combined use of the controls may be based upon some type of optimization algorithm, for example. Further, one or more of the sensed environmental conditions can be relayed back to a user and presented on a display device (e.g., along with video data).
According to one or more aspects of the present invention, attributes associated with a fueling operation and/or transaction can also be logged and included in a data stream and transmitted back to a user and/or presented on any type of display device. Such information may comprise, for example, an authorization code of the individual who initiated the fueling process, a snapshot of who actually connected the fueling equipment, before and after images of the fueling process in order to give an indication of whether hanger rash occurred (or did not occur) and the cause (culprit) of any such hanger rash, a breakdown of fuel additives, sales information (e.g., credit card information/validation), quantity of fuel administered, flow rates and/or other records of the fueling transaction. Such data may also include time and/or date stamps that give a record of when, for example, a sales transaction begins and/or ends, when a fueling process starts and/or stops, when alarms sound and/or fueling is stopped (automatically) due to an insufficient flow of one or more additives. It will be appreciated that data regarding fuel flow (as well as any other fueling attributes) can be acquired and logged in any suitable manner according to one or more aspects of the present invention, such as with optical, quadrature and/or single ended pulsers, for example.
Block 204 also provides power to block 210 which is a multi-port hub/switch. The multi-port hub/switch 210 is also operatively connected to the wireless access point 206, as well as to block 212, which represents a refueling control system. As such, data can be sent between blocks 210 and 206, as well as between blocks 210 and 212. Block 204 is further connected to block 214 which corresponds to a camera (previously referenced as 120) to provide operating power thereto. The multi-port hub/switch 210 is similarly coupled to the camera 214 to provide control signals thereto. In the illustrated example, the multi-port hub/switch 210 is operatively coupled to the refueling control system 212 and the camera 214 via 10BaseT TCP/IP. It will be appreciated, however, that while transmission control protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP) connections may be utilized, other links, such as RF links and/or off frequency applications are contemplated and are intended to fall within the scope of the present invention.
The camera 214 is further coupled to blocks 216 and 218 which correspond to a local camera screen and a local camera control respectively. The local camera screen 216 receives data from the camera 214 (e.g., of images taken by the camera), while the camera 214 receives data from the control 218 (e.g., pan, tilt, zoom commands). It will be appreciated that the camera screen 216 may correspond to the display device previously referenced as 174 in
Finally, block 222, which corresponds to an optional network based mobile controller, is operatively associated with the hub 210 for sending and receiving data therefrom. Block 222 may be part of an Ethernet network, for example, that can be included on the aircraft service vehicle that facilitates a gateway (e.g., Ethernet to Bluetooth gateway) to the assembly that allows a remote device (e.g., a PDA having a Visual Basic and/or Visual C application running thereon) to control the camera and/or base and/or to view data from the camera, fueling system, etc. Also, the controller 222 facilitates resolving conflicting commands. In one example, conflicting instructions are arbitrated on a first come first serve basis. Accordingly, a local command would be carried out in a situation where it is received just before a contrary remote command. For example, an instruction coming from the cab of the vehicle to point the camera northeast would be carried out in lieu of a command coming from a remote device located away from the vehicle to point the camera southwest, where the remote command is receive just after the local command. It will be appreciated that multiple local commands, multiple remote commands and/or a mixture of conflicting local and remote commands may be resolved in a similar manner.
It should be understood that the implementations described herein can, at least in part, be realized on a wide variety of hardware and software platforms (e.g. specialized apparatus, dedicated computer systems with hardwired logic or programs stored in memory, discrete logic devices, large scale integrated circuits (LSIs), application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), combinations of computer components with other non-computer components). It is also to be understood that the examples provided herein may be implemented in various environments (e.g. networked architectures utilizing clients and servers, public and private computer networks, computer networks of commercial on-line services, internal corporate local area networks (LANs), intranets).
A CPU 320 is shown operatively coupled to read only memory (ROM) 322 and main memory 324 in client computer 310 a. ROM 322 is operative to store static information and instructions utilized during CPU processing, while main memory 324 stores information and instructions executable by the CPU 320 as well as temporary variables or other intermediate processing information. Main memory 324 may include, for example, random access memory (RAM) and/or other volatile storage medium. Also coupled to the CPU 320 are one or more input devices 326 (e.g. alphanumeric keyboard, pointer device, mouse, joystick, trackball, stylus, motion pad, cursor direction keys, voice activated control device, wireless input device, and/or other equipment or peripherals that facilitate user interaction with the computers). Similarly, one or more output devices 328 (e.g. cathode ray tube (CRT), liquid crystal display (LCD), speakers, headphones) for presenting audio and/or video information to a user are also operatively coupled to the CPU 320. Software 330 (e.g. HTML browser software, application programs, application program interfaces (APIs), operating systems) stored in main memory 324 of the device 310 a is executable via the CPU 320 to provide much of the functionality associated with the client computer 310 a. It will be appreciated that generally all of the distributed computing devices and computer 314 may possess similar arrangements.
A user working at the client computer 310 a can utilize an input device 326, in association with a graphical user interface (GUI), for example, to submit a request for images from the camera and/or to submit movement commands to the camera. A user can, for example, enter a uniform resource locator (URL) or web address corresponding to computer 314 into browser software running on the client computer with a keyboard or engage a link with a mouse. The computer 314 receives the signal(s) from the client computer 310 a and transmits the same to the assembly 304 in order to control the camera and/or extract images there-from. In this manner, an individual can “keep an eye on” a grounded or static aircraft irrespective of the relative location of the individual to said aircraft. The individual can watch streaming video, for example, of the aircraft, as a fuel truck approaches the aircraft and fuels the aircraft. Further, the user can zoom in and/or otherwise adjust the camera to see areas of interest, such as the name tag(s) of the individual(s) performing the (re)fueling operation or any other security related visually determinable function.
It is to be appreciated that any types, combinations and/or suites of protocols, working alone or in combination, in order to support network communications, are suitable for use in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention (e.g. HTTP, HTTP 1.1, transmission control protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP), remote procedure call (RPC), remote method invocation (RMI), Java database connectivity (JDBC), open database connectivity (ODBC), secure sockets layer (SSL), network file system (NFS), FTP, telnet, simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP), point-of-presence 3 (POP3), serial line Internet protocol (SLIP), point-to-point protocol (PPP), user datagram protocol (UDP), Internet control message protocol (ICMP), interior gateway protocol (IGP), exterior gateway protocol (EGP), border gateway protocol (BGP), handheld device transfer protocol (HDTP), wireless application protocol (WAP), cellular digital packet data (CDPD), code division multiple access (CDMA), global system for mobile communications (GSM), time division multiple access (TDMA), personal digital communications (PDC), personal handy-phone system (PHS), personal handy-phone system-wireless local loop (PHS-WLL), FLEX, integrated digital enhanced network, (IDEN), digital enhanced cordless telecommunications (DECT)).
The environment includes a computer 420, including a processing unit or CPU 422, a system memory 424, and a system bus 426 that couples various system components including the system memory to the processing unit 422. The processing unit 422 may be any of various commercially available processors. It is to be appreciated that dual microprocessors and other multi-processor architectures also may be employed as the processing unit 422. The system bus may be any of several types of bus structure including a memory bus or memory controller, a peripheral bus, and a local bus using any of a variety of commercially available bus architectures (e.g. PCI, VESA, Microchannel, ISA, EISA). The system memory may include read only memory (ROM) 428 and random access memory (RAM) 430. A basic input/output system (BIOS), containing the basic routines that help to transfer information between elements within the computer 420, such as during start-up, is stored in ROM 428.
The computer 420 also may include, for example, a hard disk drive 432, a magnetic disk drive 434, e.g. to read from or write to a removable disk 436, and an optical disk drive 438, e.g. for reading from or writing to a CD-ROM disk 440 or other optical media. The hard disk drive 432, magnetic disk drive 434, and optical disk drive 438 are connected to the system bus 426 by a hard disk drive interface 442, a magnetic disk drive interface 444, and an optical drive interface 446, respectively. Computer-readable media associated with the drives can be any available media that can be accessed by the computer 420. By way of example, and not limitation, computer readable media may comprise computer storage media and communication media. Computer storage media includes volatile and nonvolatile, removable and non-removable media (e.g. hard disk, removable magnetic disk, compact disk (CD), magnetic cassettes, flash memory cards, Bernoulli cartridges, RAM, ROM, EEPROM, flash memory, CD-ROM, digital versatile disks (DVD), other medium which can be used to store desired information) implemented in any method or technology for storage of information such as computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules or other data which can be accessed by the computer 420, including components and/or computer-executable instructions that are to be installed in accordance with one or more aspects of the present invention. Communication media typically embodies computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules or other data in a modulated data signal such as a carrier wave or other transport mechanism and includes any information delivery media. The term modulated data signal means a signal that has one or more of its characteristics set or changed in such a manner as to encode information in the signal. By way of example, and not limitation, communication media includes wired media such as a wired network or direct-wired connection, and wireless media such as acoustic, RF, infrared and other wireless media.
A number of program modules may be stored in the drives and RAM 430, including an operating system 448, one or more application programs 450, other program modules 452, and program data 454. The operating system 448 may be any suitable operating system or a combination of operating systems. A user may enter commands and information into the computer 420 through one or more user input devices (e.g. keyboard 456, mouse/pointing device 458, microphone, joystick, game pad, satellite dish, scanner (all not shown)). These are often connected to the processing unit 422 through a serial port interface 460 that is coupled to the system bus 426, but may be connected by other interfaces (e.g. parallel port, game port, universal serial bus (USB), IR interface). A display device (e.g. monitor 462) is also connected to the system bus 426 via an interface (e.g. video adapter 464). In addition to the monitor 462, the computer 420 may include other peripheral output devices (e.g. speakers, printers (not shown)).
The computer 420 may operate in a networked environment using one or more logical and/or physical connections to one or more remote computers 466. The remote computer 466 may be a workstation, a server computer, a router, a peer device or other common network node, and typically includes many or all of the elements described relative to the computer 420, although, for purposes of brevity, only a memory storage device 468 is illustrated. The logical connections depicted in
When employed in a LAN networking environment, the computer 420 is connected to the local network 470 through a network interface or adapter 474. When used in a WAN networking environment, the computer 420 typically includes a modem 476, or is connected to a communications server on the LAN, or has other means for establishing communications over the WAN 472, such as the Internet. The modem 476, which may be internal or external, is connected to the system bus 426 via the serial port interface 460. In a networked environment, program modules depicted relative to the computer 420, or portions thereof, may be stored in the remote memory storage device 468. It will be appreciated that the network connections shown are exemplary and other means of establishing a communications link between the computers 420 and 466 may be used.
A component, as used herein, may refer to a computer-related entity (e.g. hardware, a combination of hardware and software, software, software in execution, a process running on a processor, a processor, an object, an executable, a thread of execution, a program, a computer, an application running on a server, a server). Additionally, a system may comprise a structure having one or more modules, where a module may include computer hardware and/or software (e.g. computer readable memory encoded with software instructions, computer configuration to carry out specified tasks, application program stored in computer readable memory, server on which an application runs, software object). Also, various aspects of the present invention may employ technologies associated with facilitating unconstrained optimization (e.g. back-propagation, Bayesian, Fuzzy Set, Non Linear regression, or other neural network paradigms including mixture of experts, cerebellar model arithmetic computer (CMACS), Radial Basis Functions, directed search networks, and functional link nets).
Although the invention has been illustrated and described with respect to one or more implementations, equivalent alterations and modifications will occur to others skilled in the art upon the reading and understanding of this specification and the annexed drawings. In particular regard to the various functions performed by the above described components (assemblies, devices, circuits, systems, etc.), the terms (including a reference to a “means”) used to describe such components are intended to correspond, unless otherwise indicated, to any component which performs the specified function of the described component (e.g., that is functionally equivalent), even though not structurally equivalent to the disclosed structure which performs the function in the herein illustrated exemplary implementations of the invention. In addition, while a particular feature of the invention may have been disclosed with respect to only one of several implementations, such feature may be combined with one or more other features of the other implementations as may be desired and advantageous for any given or particular application. Furthermore, to the extent that the terms “including”, “includes”, “having”, “has”, “with”, or variants thereof are used in either the detailed description and the claims, such terms are intended to be inclusive in a manner similar to the term “comprising.” Also, the term “exemplary” as used herein is merely meant to mean an example, rather than the best.