Journal of Electronic ImagingLow-complexity, high-speed, and high-dynamic range time-to-impact algorithm
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We present a method suitable for a time-to-impact sensor. Inspired by the seemingly "low" complexity of small insects, we propose a new approach to optical flow estimation that is the key component in time-to-impact estimation. The approach is based on measuring time instead of the apparent motion of points in the image plane. The specific properties of the motion field in the time-to-impact application are used, such as measuring only along a one-dimensional (1-D) line and using simple feature points, which are tracked from frame to frame. The method lends itself readily to be implemented in a parallel processor with an analog front-end. Such a processing concept [near-sensor image processing (NSIP)] was described for the first time in 1983. In this device, an optical sensor array and a low-level processing unit are tightly integrated into a hybrid analog-digital device. The high dynamic range, which is a key feature of NSIP, is used to extract the feature points. The output from the device consists of a few parameters, which will give the time-to-impact as well as possible transversal speed for off-centered viewing. Performance and complexity aspects of the implementation are discussed, indicating that time-to-impact data can be achieved at a rate of 10 kHz with today's technology.