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Proceedings Paper

Unmanned ground vehicle perception using thermal infrared cameras
Author(s): Arturo Rankin; Andres Huertas; Larry Matthies; Max Bajracharya; Christopher Assad; Shane Brennan; Paolo Bellutta; Gary W. Sherwin
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Paper Abstract

The ability to perform off-road autonomous navigation at any time of day or night is a requirement for some unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) programs. Because there are times when it is desirable for military UGVs to operate without emitting strong, detectable electromagnetic signals, a passive only terrain perception mode of operation is also often a requirement. Thermal infrared (TIR) cameras can be used to provide day and night passive terrain perception. TIR cameras have a detector sensitive to either mid-wave infrared (MWIR) radiation (3-5μm) or long-wave infrared (LWIR) radiation (7-14μm). With the recent emergence of high-quality uncooled LWIR cameras, TIR cameras have become viable passive perception options for some UGV programs. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has used a stereo pair of TIR cameras under several UGV programs to perform stereo ranging, terrain mapping, tree-trunk detection, pedestrian detection, negative obstacle detection, and water detection based on object reflections. In addition, we have evaluated stereo range data at a variety of UGV speeds, evaluated dual-band TIR classification of soil, vegetation, and rock terrain types, analyzed 24 hour water and 12 hour mud TIR imagery, and analyzed TIR imagery for hazard detection through smoke. Since TIR cameras do not currently provide the resolution available from megapixel color cameras, a UGV's daytime safe speed is often reduced when using TIR instead of color cameras. In this paper, we summarize the UGV terrain perception work JPL has performed with TIR cameras over the last decade and describe a calibration target developed by General Dynamics Robotic Systems (GDRS) for TIR cameras and other sensors.

Paper Details

Date Published: 17 May 2011
PDF: 26 pages
Proc. SPIE 8045, Unmanned Systems Technology XIII, 804503 (17 May 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.884349
Show Author Affiliations
Arturo Rankin, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Andres Huertas, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Larry Matthies, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Max Bajracharya, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Christopher Assad, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Shane Brennan, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Paolo Bellutta, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Gary W. Sherwin, General Dynamics Robotic Systems (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8045:
Unmanned Systems Technology XIII
Douglas W. Gage; Charles M. Shoemaker; Robert E. Karlsen; Grant R. Gerhart, Editor(s)

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