We propose a novel programmable miniature vision module based on a custom designed analog VLSI (aVLSI) chip. The vision module consists of the optical flow vision sensor embedded with commercial off-the-shelves digital hardware; in our case is the Intel XScale PXA270 processor enforced with a programmable gate array device. The aVLSI sensor provides gray-scale imager data as well as smooth optical flow estimates, thus each pixel gives a triplet of information that can be continuously read out as three independent images. The particular computational architecture of the custom designed sensor, which is fully parallel and also analog, allows for efficient real-time estimations of the smooth optical flow. The Intel XScale PXA270 controls the sensor read-out and furthermore allows, together with the programmable gate array, for additional higher level processing of the intensity image and optical flow data. It also provides the necessary standard interface such that the module can be easily programmed and integrated into different vision systems, or even form a complete stand-alone vision system itself. The low power consumption, small size and flexible interface of the proposed vision module suggests that it could be particularly well suited as a vision system in an autonomous robotics platform and especially well suited for educational projects in the robotic sciences.
2 System Architecture
2.1 The aVLSI vision sensor
2.2 The InteJ XScaJe PXA270
2.3 The cPLD gate array as serializer