The CONE (Collaborative Observatory for Natural Environments) project addresses the problem of studying animals in their natural habitat by providing a new class of teleoperated/autonomous robotic "observatories". This paper describes the design and implementation of the 4th CONE project prototype system called CONE Sutro Forest (CONE-SF). It was installed in Spring 2007 overlooking the Sutro Forest in San Francisco, and incorporates a networked robotic camera, a server to control the camera, and a Java client and Web interface that multiple users can use to simultaneously access the system. Using the Java client, users can select viewing frames on a panorama representing the area viewable by the camera. The camera is then moved and views the frame determined to achieve the greatest amount of satisfaction among viewers, making camera control collaborative. To enhance the collaborative experience a game is incorporated into the client and Web interface that assigns points to players for capturing and classifying images of animals.
In the paper particular emphasis is put on the implementation of three parts of the CONE-SF prototype system. The video relay server, which solves the problem of limited camera bandwidth. The Java client that allows users to control the camera and capture images, and an autonomous client that scans looking for interesting activity to capture when nobody else is using the system.
Implementation of a Collaborative Observatory for Natural Environments
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