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Fixed-wing attitude estimation using temporal tracking of the horizon and optical flow

Dusha, Damien, Mejias, Luis, & Walker, Rodney A. (2011) Fixed-wing attitude estimation using temporal tracking of the horizon and optical flow. Journal of Field Robotics, 28(3), pp. 355-372.

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Abstract

In this paper, a method has been developed for estimating pitch angle, roll angle and aircraft body rates based on horizon detection and temporal tracking using a forward-looking camera, without assistance from other sensors. Using an image processing front-end, we select several lines in an image that may or may not correspond to the true horizon. The optical flow at each candidate line is calculated, which may be used to measure the body rates of the aircraft. Using an Extended Kalman Filter (EKF), the aircraft state is propagated using a motion model and a candidate horizon line is associated using a statistical test based on the optical flow measurements and the location of the horizon. Once associated, the selected horizon line, along with the associated optical flow, is used as a measurement to the EKF.

To test the accuracy of the algorithm, two flights were conducted, one using a highly dynamic Uninhabited Airborne Vehicle (UAV) in clear flight conditions and the other in a human-piloted Cessna 172 in conditions where the horizon was partially obscured by terrain, haze and smoke. The UAV flight resulted in pitch and roll error standard deviations of 0.42◦ and 0.71◦ respectively when compared with a truth attitude source. The Cessna flight resulted in pitch and roll error standard deviations of 1.79◦ and 1.75◦ respectively. The benefits of selecting and tracking the horizon using a motion model and optical flow rather than naively relying on the image processing front-end is also demonstrated.

Impact and interest:

8 citations in Scopus
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2 citations in Web of Science®

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51 since deposited on 15 Feb 2011
13 in the past twelve months

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ID Code: 40090
Item Type: Journal Article
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Attitude Estimation, Horizon Detection, UAV, Optical Flow
DOI: 10.1002/rob.20387
ISSN: 1556-4967
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000) > ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND IMAGE PROCESSING (080100) > Computer Vision (080104)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > AEROSPACE ENGINEERING (090100) > Avionics (090105)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC ENGINEERING (090600) > Signal Processing (090609)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Engineering Systems
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Deposited On: 16 Feb 2011 08:20
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2012 11:39

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