First Results in Detecting and Avoiding Frontal Obstacles from a Monocular Camera for Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Tomoyuki Mori and Sebastian Scherer
Conference Paper, Proceedings of International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pp. 1750 – 1757, May, 2013

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Obstacle avoidance is desirable for lightweight micro aerial vehicles and is a challenging problem since the payload constraints only permit monocular cameras and obstacles cannot be directly observed. Depth can however be inferred based on various cues in the image. Prior work has examined optical flow, and perspective cues, however these methods cannot handle frontal obstacles well. In this paper we examine the problem of detecting obstacles right in front of the vehicle. We developed a method to detect relative size changes of image patches that is able to detect size changes in the absence of optical flow. The method uses SURF feature matches in combination with template matching to compare relative obstacle sizes with different image spacing. We present results from our algorithm in autonomous flight tests on a small quadrotor. We are able to detect obstacles with a frame- to-frame enlargement of 120% with a high confidence and confirmed our algorithm in 20 successful flight experiments. In future work, we will improve the control algorithms to avoid more complicated obstacle configurations.

author = {Tomoyuki Mori and Sebastian Scherer},
title = {First Results in Detecting and Avoiding Frontal Obstacles from a Monocular Camera for Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicles},
booktitle = {Proceedings of International Conference on Robotics and Automation},
year = {2013},
month = {May},
pages = {1750 – 1757},
keywords = {Obstacle Avoidance, UAV},
} 2018-10-04T15:16:23-05:00