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Proceedings Paper

Passive detection of subpixel obstacles for flight safety
Author(s): Matthew D. Nixon; Rohan C. Loveland
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Paper Abstract

Military aircraft fly below 100 ft. above ground level in support of their missions. These aircraft include fixed and rotary wing and may be manned or unmanned. Flying at these low altitudes presents a safety hazard to the aircrew and aircraft, due to the occurrences of obstacles within the aircraft's flight path. The pilot must rely on eyesight and in some cases, infrared sensors to see obstacles. Many conditions can exacerbate visibility creating a situation in which obstacles are essentially invisible, creating a safety hazard, even to an alerted aircrew. Numerous catastrophic accidents have occurred in which aircraft have collided with undetected obstacles. Accidents of this type continue to be a problem for low flying military and commercial aircraft. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have the same problem, whether operating autonomously or under control of a ground operator. Boeing-SVS has designed a passive, small, low- cost (under $100k) gimbaled, infrared imaging based system with advanced obstacle detection algorithms. Obstacles are detected in the infrared band, and linear features are analyzed by innovative cellular automata based software. These algorithms perform detection and location of sub-pixel linear features. The detection of the obstacles is performed on a frame by frame basis, in real time. Processed images are presented to the aircrew on their display as color enhanced features. The system has been designed such that the detected obstacles are displayed to the aircrew in sufficient time to react and maneuver the aircraft to safety. A patent for this system is on file with the US patent office, and all material herein should be treated accordingly.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 December 2001
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 4472, Applications of Digital Image Processing XXIV, (7 December 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.449739
Show Author Affiliations
Matthew D. Nixon, Boeing-SVS, Inc. (United States)
Rohan C. Loveland, RCL Consulting (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4472:
Applications of Digital Image Processing XXIV
Andrew G. Tescher, Editor(s)

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