Fault diagnosis for rolling bearings has attracted increasing attention in recent years. However, few studies have focused on fault diagnosis for rolling bearings under variable conditions. This paper introduces a fault diagnosis method for rolling bearings under variable conditions based on visual cognition. The proposed method includes the following steps. First, the vibration signal data are transformed into a recurrence plot (RP), which is a two-dimensional image. Then, inspired by the visual invariance characteristic of the human visual system (HVS), we utilize speed up robust feature to extract fault features from the two-dimensional RP and generate a 64-dimensional feature vector, which is invariant to image translation, rotation, scaling variation, etc. Third, based on the manifold perception characteristic of HVS, isometric mapping, a manifold learning method that can reflect the intrinsic manifold embedded in the high-dimensional space, is employed to obtain a low-dimensional feature vector. Finally, a classical classification method, support vector machine, is utilized to realize fault diagnosis. Verification data were collected from Case Western Reserve University Bearing Data Center, and the experimental result indicates that the proposed fault diagnosis method based on visual cognition is highly effective for rolling bearings under variable conditions, thus providing a promising approach from the cognitive computing field.
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