Optical EngineeringDecision fusion benefits assessment in a three-sensor suite framework
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The various decision fusion strategies postulated recently for target detection in the context of a three-sensor suite are analyzed in depth to delineate the domains of beneficial fusion and determine the extent of such benefits. This is similar in scope to earlier temporal fusion studies on suites with only two sensors, except that the present analysis is limited to fusion strategies involving only a single set of observations from the sensors. Instead, the added flexibility in the design of fusion strategies resulting from an increase in the number of sensors to three is defined and assessed. The analysis covers two basic categories of fusion strategies. The first is a single-stage fusion wherein the decision outputs of all the three sensor subsystems are fused simultaneously using one of four different strategies, namely, AND logic, simple majority logic, firm-decisions-only majority logic, and a no-firm-contradiction logic. The second is a two-stage fusion strategy, wherein either an AND or an OR logic is used at the first stage combining the decisions of two of the sensor subsystems, followed by a similar logic choice combining the fused decision from the first level with the decision from the third sensor subsystem, resulting once again in four possible alternative strategies. First, each of the strategies is compared to the single-sensor performance to delineate the corresponding domain and extent of the fusion benefits, using for illustrative convenience the special case of a scenario wherein all the three sensors in the suite have identical expected performance characteristics. Next, a detailed comparative assessment of these strategies is made under the same assumption of identical sensor characteristics. The set of eight fusion strategies under the three-sensor suite is then compared with the two simple Boolean (AND logic and OR logic) strategies under the two-sensor suite to delineate the benefits domain of adding the third sensor to the suite.