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Volume 26 Issue 2 - Publication Date: 1 February 2007
Special Issue on the Fifth International Conference on Field and Service Robotics, 2005
 
Autonomous Helicopter Tracking and Localization Using a Self-surveying Camera Array
 
M. Matsuoka, A. Chen, S.P.N. Singh, A. Coates, A.Y. Ng and S. Thrun Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305
 
ASelf-surveying Camera Array (SSCA) is a vision-based local-area positioning system consisting of multiple ground-deployed cameras that are capable of self-surveying their extrinsic parameters while tracking and localizing a moving target. This paper presents the selfsurveying algorithm being used to track a target helicopter in each camera frame and to localize the helicopter in an array-fixed frame. Three cameras are deployed independently in an arbitrary arrangement that allows eachcamera to view the helicopter’s flight volume. The helicopter then flies an unplanned path that allows the cameras to calibrate the relative locations and orientations by utilizing a self-surveying algorithm that is extended from the well-known structure from motion algorithm and the bundle adjustment technique. This yields the cameras’ extrinsic parameters enabling real-time helicopter positioning via triangulation. This paper also presents results from field trials, which verify the feasibility of the SSCA as a readily-deployable system applicable to helicopter tracking and localization. The results demonstrate that, compared to the differential GPS solution as true reference, the SSCA alone is capable of positioning the helicopter with meter-level accuracy. The SSCA has been integrated with onboard inertial sensors providing a reliable positioning system to enable successful autonomous hovering.
 
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