The patent's assignee is Tait Towers Manufacturing, Llc.
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The application generally relates to an automation and motion control system. The application relates more specifically to an automation and motion control system for the entertainment industry that uses a distributed control model and independent nodes.
"In the entertainment industry, to provide a realistic atmosphere for a theatrical production, theatrical objects or components can be moved or controlled by an automation and motion control system during (and between) scenes on a stage or takes on a motion picture production set. Automation of the movement and control of the theatrical objects or components is desirable for safety, predictability, efficiency, and economics. Prior theatrical object movement and control systems provided for the control and movement of the theatrical objects or components under the control of a central computer or microprocessor. The prior movement and control systems controlled a large number of devices using lists of sequential actions or instructions that were executed by the central computer. For example, the motorized movement of the objects could be provided by drive motors, which may or may not use variable speed drives, coupled to the central computer, possibly through one or more intermediate controllers. The prior theatrical object movement and control systems used a hierarchical order with a definite progression from operator controls to data network to control device to field device.
"One drawback to the centralized control of multiple components is that as the number of components in a particular system increases, the processing power or capability of the central controller and the central controller's corresponding communication bandwidth has to likewise increase in order to be able to provide the appropriate control instructions to the components. If the central controller cannot process or transmit the information and instructions fast enough, the components may not perform as expected and/or safety risks could be introduced that could cause damage or injury to both people and property.
"Other prior theatrical object movement and control systems use separate subsystems, each having a programmable logic controller (PLC), to handle the control of device functionality. When using PLCs, the operator has to monitor the system via separate inputs from the separate subsystems and then take separate actions for each of the subsystems.
"Therefore, what is needed is a control system for a theatrical production that does not use a central controller for processing, but instead distributes the processing load among multiple independent nodes while operating within a single system."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "The present application is directed to an automation and motion control system to control a plurality of theatrical objects. The control system includes a plurality of nodes in communication with each other over a real time network. Each node of the plurality of nodes corresponds to at least one item equipment used to a control a theatrical object. Each node of the plurality of nodes includes a microprocessor and a memory device. The memory device includes a node process and at least one process executable by the microprocessor. The at least one process is used to control the operation of the at least one item of equipment. The at least one process has one or more of cues, rules and actions to generate the control instructions to control the operation of the at least one item of equipment.
"The present application is also directed to a control system to move an object. The control system includes an operator console node enabled to permit an operator to interact with the control system and a plurality of axis nodes. Each axis node of the plurality of axis nodes has a microprocessor and is associated with an item of equipment used to move an object in a predefined space. The control system includes a space device having a display device enabled to display movement of the object in the predefined space, a first operator interface enabled to permit an operator to define a movement path for the object in the predefined space, and a second operator interface enabled to permit an operator to define the relationship between the object and a plurality of engines used to move the object. The movement path adjusts both the position of the object and the orientation of the object. Each engine of the plurality of engines corresponding to an axis node of the plurality of axis nodes. The space device provides the defined movement path for the object and the relationship between the object and the plurality of engines to at least one axis node the plurality of axis nodes. The at least one axis node the plurality of axis nodes processing the defined movement path for the object and the relationship between the object and the plurality of engines to generate one or more control instructions to control operation of the item of equipment to move the object along the defined movement path.
"The present application is further directed to a computer implemented method to control the movement of an object in a predefined space. The method includes establishing a starting point for an object in a predefined space. The starting point defining a position and an orientation of the object in the predefined space. The method includes determining a motion profile for the object. The motion profile being used to move the object along a path beginning at the starting point and the motion profile having a position and an orientation for the object at each point along the path. The method also includes converting the motion profile into a plurality of control instructions for at least one component used to move the object along the path and executing the plurality of control instructions by the at least one component to move the object along the path.
"One embodiment of the present application includes a theatrical objects automated motion control system, program product, and method that provides, in various implementations, techniques for large scale motion and device control. Non-hierarchical theatrical object movement techniques are provided to permit combinations of multiple devices on a network to function as would a single machine. Full-function scalability is provided from one to many machines, wherein neither processor nor device boundaries exist but rather each device has the option of exchanging its operational data with any other device at any time, in real time. Techniques are provided for coordinating the movement and control of objects, e.g., theatrical props, cameras, stunt persons (e.g., 'wirework'), lighting, scenery, drapery and other equipment, during a performance at a venue, e.g., a theater, arena, concert hall, auditorium, school, club, convention center and television studio.
"In one exemplary implementation, the control system can coordinate the moving of objects about a venue during a live performance, e.g., a theatrical performance on a stage, and/or during the filming of a scene for a television or movie production. Such venues can employ machines, such as winches, hoists, battens, or trusses, to move the various objects relative to a stage or floor. By controlling the movement of the objects with the control system, the safety of the actors can be better ensured and the movement of the objects or actors can seem more realistic.
"As an example, a theatrical performance may call for a battle scene. In the battle, a first stunt person is to fly through the air and then collide with a second stunt person, where the second stunt person is struck so hard that the second stunt person is thrown backward into and through a wall. To set up this stunt, each of the first and second stunt persons is hung from respective cables. Each cable is attached to a separate winding mechanism powered by an electrical motor, for instance, a winch. In the stunt, the first stunt person falls while attached to a cable towards the second stunt person. The winch stops the cable, and the first stunt person's movement, just as the first stunt person hits the second stunt person. While not seen by the audience, each person wears some padding so that their minor impact will not hurt either person. The second winch is synchronized (with the first winch) to pull on the cable attached to the second stunt person so hard that it appears that the second stunt person has been struck by the first stunt person. The second winch then continues to pull the second stunt person's cable until the second player's body hits an easily breakable wall. Finally, the second winch stops the second stunt person's cable when the second stunt person's body has passed through the easily breakable wall. The control system can be used to control the coordination of the winding and reeling between the first and second winches to ensure the safety of the stunt persons.
"One advantage of the present application is that it is scalable and configurable to accommodate both simple systems with very few objects and complex systems with multiple subsystems each having many objects.
"Another advantage of the present application is that the user interface is configurable to display only the information required by the operator, at the level of detail required by the operator.
"Still another advantage of the present application is the capability for real time operation and/or implementation of motion control systems, safety systems, I/O devices, show control functions, industrial protocols, DMX systems, SMPTE systems, VITC systems, and 3D environment constructions and controls from different manufacturers.
"Yet another advantage of the present application is that operators can configure the system's capabilities to satisfy their current needs, but can expand the system capabilities as required.
"A further advantage of the present application is the inclusion of specific capabilities and features associated with different areas of the entertainment industry, from theaters to theme parks to motion picture productions and stunts.
"One advantage of the present application is the distribution of the control processing load among several controllers that can reduce the processing power required of any one controller and enable more cost effective controllers to be used.
"Another advantage of the present application is the use of rule functions or groups by a component controller to respond to an action or event occurring at another component without receiving an instruction from a central controller.
"Still another advantage of the present application is that a component controller can perform self-monitoring functions with respect to preselected safety and accuracy parameters.
"A further advantage of the present application is the ability of a component controller to function autonomously without having to receive global control instructions.
"One advantage of the present application is that the control system has a structural organization that permits any type of device to be built while maintaining the same operational paradigm, thereby enabling all devices to exchange information.
"Another advantage of the present application is the ability for real-time monitoring of systems, failure detection and a simplified, but multi-layered, safety system that features both rules and integrated e-stop controls.
"A further advantage of the present application is that it can display data about cues, machines in motion, machines on e-stop, status of the machines to be used on the next cue or any alerts generated from sensors incorporated in the system.
"Other features and advantages of the present application will be apparent from the following more detailed description of the preferred embodiment, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the application.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
"FIG. 1 schematically shows an exemplary embodiment of an automation and motion control system.
"FIG. 2 schematically shows an alternate embodiment of an automation and motion control system.
"FIG. 3 schematically shows an exemplary embodiment of a node from the automation and motion control system.
"FIGS. 4 and 5 show exemplary embodiments of screen displays from the control system identifying nodes.
"FIGS. 6 and 7 shows exemplary embodiments of screen displays from the control system identifying associated processes for select nodes.
"FIG. 8 schematically shows an exemplary embodiment of a sub- or co-process of a node process.
"FIG. 9 shows an exemplary embodiment of a screen display from the control system for setting properties for a rule for a device.
"FIG. 10 shows an exemplary embodiment of a screen display from the control system showing the rule text for a rule created in the interface of FIG. 9.
"FIGS. 11 and 12 show exemplary embodiments of screen displays from the control system identifying associated threads for a process.
"FIGS. 13 and 14 show exemplary embodiments of screen displays from the control system showing performance data.
"FIG. 15 shows an exemplary embodiment of a screen display from the control system showing a table corresponding to a data vector that is shared with other devices.
"FIG. 16 shows an exemplary embodiment of a screen display from the control system showing a graphical user interface messenger for an operator console.
"FIG. 17 shows an exemplary embodiment of a screen display from the control system showing sequential motion sequences.
"FIGS. 18-20 show different views of an exemplary embodiment of a three dimensional motion system.
"FIGS. 21 and 22 show exemplary embodiment of different interfaces for entering a point to point motion profile into a three dimensional motion system.
"FIG. 23 shows an exemplary embodiment of a coordinate system for an object moved in the three dimensional motion system.
"FIGS. 24 and 25 show exemplary embodiments of different editors for entering motion profiles for a three dimensional motion system.
"FIGS. 26 and 27 show exemplary representations associated with the motion control algorithm.
"FIGS. 28 and 29 show exemplary embodiments of different representations of Stewart Platform orientations.
"Wherever possible, the same reference numbers are used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like parts."
For additional information on this patent application, see: FISHER, Scott. Automation and Motion Control System. Filed
Keywords for this news article include: Electronics, Microprocessors, Tait Towers Manufacturing Llc.
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