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Proceedings Paper

Visual navigation aid for planetary UAV risk reduction
Author(s): C. A. McPherson; M. S. Bottkol; R. W. Madison; P. A. DeBitetto; M. Young
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Paper Abstract

Unlike the navigation problem of Earth operations, the precise navigation of a vehicle in a remote planetary environment presents a challenging problem for either absolute or relative navigation. There exist no GPS/INS solutions due to a lack of a GPS constellation, few or no accurately surveyed markers for use in terminal sensing measurements, and highly uncertain terrain elevation maps used by a TERCOM system. These, and other, issues prompted the investigation of the potential use of a visual navigation aid to supplement an Inertial Navigation System (INS) and radar altimeter suite of a planetary airplane for the purpose of the identifying the potential benefit of visual measurements to the overall navigation solution. The mission objective used in the study, described herein, requires the precise relative navigation of the airplane over an uncertain terrain. Unlike the previously successful employment of visual aided navigation on the MER1 landing vehicle, the mission objectives require that the airplane traverse a precise flight pattern over the objective terrain at relatively low altitudes for hundreds of kilometers, and is more akin to a velocity correlator application than a terminal fix problem. The results of the investigation indicate that a good knowledge of aircraft altitude is required in order to obtain the desired performance for velocity estimate accuracy. However, it was determined that the direction of the velocity vector can be obtained without a high accuracy height estimate. The characterization of the dependency of velocity estimate accuracy upon the variety of factors involved in the process is the primary focus of this report. This report describes the approach taken in this investigation to both define the architecture of the solution for minimal impact upon payload requirements, and the analysis of the potential gains to the overall navigation problem. Also described as part of the problem definition are the initially assumed contribution sources of visual measurement errors and some additional constraints which limit the choices of solutions.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 September 2007
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6764, Intelligent Robots and Computer Vision XXV: Algorithms, Techniques, and Active Vision, 67640Q (10 September 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.734346
Show Author Affiliations
C. A. McPherson, The Charles Stark Draper Lab., Inc. (United States)
M. S. Bottkol, The Charles Stark Draper Lab., Inc. (United States)
R. W. Madison, The Charles Stark Draper Lab., Inc. (United States)
P. A. DeBitetto, The Charles Stark Draper Lab., Inc. (United States)
M. Young, The Charles Stark Draper Lab., Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6764:
Intelligent Robots and Computer Vision XXV: Algorithms, Techniques, and Active Vision
David P. Casasent; Ernest L. Hall; Juha Röning, Editor(s)

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