Infoscience

Student project

Pyramic array: An FPGA based platform for multi-channel audio acquisition

Microphone arrays techniques present compelling applications for robotic applications. Those techniques can allow robots to listen to their environment and infer clues from it. Such features might enable capabilities such as natural interaction with humans, interpreting spoken commands or the localization of victims during search and rescue tasks. However, under noisy conditions robotic implementations of microphone arrays might degrade their precision when localizing sound sources. For practical applications, human hearing still leaves behind microphone arrays. Daniel Kisch is an example of how humans are able to efficiently perform echo-localization to recognize their environment, even in noisy and reverberant environments. For ubiquitous computing, another limitation of acoustic localization algorithms is within their capabilities of performing real-time Digital Signal Processing (DSP) operations. To tackle those problems, tradeoffs between size, weight, cost and power consumption compromise the design of acoustic sensors for practical applications. This works presents the design and operation of a large microphone array for DSP applications in realistic environments. To address those problems this project introduces the Pyramic sound capture system designed at LAP in EPFL. Pyramic is a custom hardware which possesses 48 microphones distributed in the edges of a tetrahedron. The microphone arrays interact with a Terasic DE1-SoC board from Altera Cyclone V family devices, which combines a Hard Processor System (HPS) and a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) in the same die. The HPS part integrates a dual-core ARM-based Cortex-A9 processor, which combined with the power of FPGA design suitable for processing multichannel microphone signals. This thesis explains the implementation of the Pyramic array. Moreover, FPGA-based hardware accelerators have been designed to implement a Master SPI communication with the array and a parallel 48 channels FIR filters cascade of the audio data for delay-and-sum beamforming applications. Additionally, the configuration of the HPS part allows the Pyramic array to be controlled through a Linux based OS. The main purpose of the project is to develop a flexible platform in which real-time echo-location algorithms can be implemented. The effectiveness of the Pyramic array design is illustrated by testing the recorded data with offline direction of arrival algorithms developed at LCAV in EPFL.

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