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Proceedings Paper

Real-time image fusion: a vision aid for helicopter pilotage
Author(s): Moira I. Smith; Adrian N. Ball; David Hooper
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Paper Abstract

This paper reports on the development of a real-time image fusion demonstration system using COTS technology. The system is designed to operate in a highly dynamic helicopter environment and across a challenging variety of operational conditions. The targeted application for the demonstrator system is low-level helicopter nap-of-the-earth flight, with particular emphasis being placed on providing improved pilot vision for an increased situation awareness capability. This work provides key technology assessment for the UK Ministry of Defense's Day/Night All Weather helicopter program. The current operation requirement is to fuse imagery from two sensors - one a thermal imagery, the other an image intensifier or visible band camera. However, provision has been made within the software and hardware architectures to support scaling to different cameras and further processors. Over the past two years the research has matured from algorithmic development and analysis using pre-registered recorded imagery to the current real-time image fusion demonstrator system which performs registration and warping prior to an adaptive image processing control scheme. This paper concentrates on the design and hardware implementation issues associated with the process of moving from experimental non real-time algorithms to a real-time image fusion demonstrator. Background information about the program is provided to help put the current system in context, and a brief overview of the algorithm set is also given. The design and hardware implementation issues associated with this scheme are discussed and results from initial field trials are presented.

Paper Details

Date Published: 16 July 2002
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 4713, Enhanced and Synthetic Vision 2002, (16 July 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.474430
Show Author Affiliations
Moira I. Smith, Waterfall Solutions Ltd. (United Kingdom)
Adrian N. Ball, QinetiQ (United Kingdom)
David Hooper, Thales Optronics, Ltd. (United Kingdom)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4713:
Enhanced and Synthetic Vision 2002
Jacques G. Verly, Editor(s)

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