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Proceedings Paper

Determining the position of runways from UAV video
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Paper Abstract

Most UAVs use a GPS-based auto-landing system. However, GPS systems can fail, either through natural interference or deliberate jamming. To safely operate in the national airspace, UAVs must include a backup auto-landing system. At 21st Century Systems, Inc., we are developing a vision-based landing system capable of replacing GPS when GPS fails. Existing structure-from-motion techniques operate on two frames of video. These techniques find a collection of salient features in each frame. They correctly match the features between the two frames and then use epipolar geometry to calculate distances to each feature. Unfortunately, these techniques are too computationally complex to meet our realtime requirements. Instead, we have developed two closed-formed solutions that provide real-time calculations of the runway's relative position from a single frame of video. Our first approach calculates the distance and orientation based on rectangular features whose size and position are known. Precision runways have many standardized rectangular markings, providing the opportunity to create multiple rectangular templates. In our approach, we use advanced image processing to identify the feature points of these templates, and then calculate the distance to each template, combining the results across multiple templates to reduce the effects of noise. The second approach incorporates additional pose information directly from the UAV's internal compass and IMU. This both reduces the effect of noise from our image processing, and allows us to calculate the UAV's pose relative to the runway from an arbitrary set of features. We are no longer limited to rectangle shaped templates.

Paper Details

Date Published: 30 April 2009
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 7332, Unmanned Systems Technology XI, 733207 (30 April 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.818999
Show Author Affiliations
Richard Warren, 21st Century Systems, Inc. (United States)
Amber Fischer, 21st Century Systems, Inc. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7332:
Unmanned Systems Technology XI
Grant R. Gerhart; Douglas W. Gage; Charles M. Shoemaker, Editor(s)

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