The estimation of the Instantaneous Angular Speed (IAS) has in recent years attracted a growing interest in the diagnostics of rotating machines. Measurement of the IAS can be used as a source of information of the machine condition per se, or for performing angular resampling through Computed Order Tracking, a practice which is essential to highlight the machine spectral signature in case of non-stationary operational conditions. In these regards, the SURVISHNO 2019 international conference held at INSA Lyon on 8–10 July 2019 proposed a challenge about the estimation of the instantaneous non-stationary speed of a fan from a video taken by a smartphone, a pocket, low-cost device which can nowadays be found in everyone's pocket. This work originated by the author to produce an offline motion-tracking of the fan (actually, of the head of its locking-screw) and obtaining then a reliable estimate of the IAS. The here proposed algorithm is an update of the established Template Matching (TM) technique (i.e., in the Signal Processing community, a two-dimensional matched filter), which is here integrated into a Genetic Algorithm (GA) search. Using a template reconstructed from a simplified parametric mathematical model of the features of interest (i.e., the known geometry of the edges of the screw head), the GA can be used to adapt the template to match the search image, leading to a hybridization of template-based and feature-based approaches which allows to overcome the well-known issues of the traditional TM related to scaling and rotations of the search image with respect to the template. Furthermore, it is able to resolve the position of the center of the screw head at a resolution that goes beyond the limit of the pixel grid. By repeating the analysis frame after frame and focusing on the angular position of the screw head over time, the proposed algorithm can be used as an effective offline video-tachometer able to estimate the IAS from the video, avoiding the need for expensive high-resolution encoders or tachometers.
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