Active Object Detection and Tracking Using Gimbal Mechanisms for Autonomous Drone Applications

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1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Object recognition, localization, and tracking play a role of primordial importance in computer vision applications. However, it is still an extremely difficult task, particularly in scenarios where objects are attended to using fast-moving UAVs that need to robustly operate in real time. Typically the performance of these vision-based systems is affected by motion blur and geometric distortions, to name but two issues. Gimbal systems are thus essential to compensate for motion blur and ensure visual streams are stable. In this work, we investigate the advantages of active tracking approaches using a three-degrees-of-freedom (DoF) gimbal system mounted on UAVs. A method that utilizes joint movement and visual information for actively tracking spherical and planar objects in real time is proposed. Tracking methodologies are tested and evaluated in two different realistic Gazebo simulation environments: the first on 3D positional tracking (sphere) and the second on tracking of 6D poses (planar fiducial markers). We show that active object tracking is advantageous for UAV applications, first, by reducing motion blur, caused by fast camera motion and vibrations, and, second, by fixating the object of interest within the center of the field of view and thus reducing re-projection errors due to peripheral distortion. The results demonstrate significant object pose estimation accuracy improvements of active approaches when compared with traditional passive ones. More specifically, a set of experiments suggests that active gimbal tracking can increase the spatial estimation accuracy of known-size moving objects, under conditions of challenging motion patterns and in the presence of image distortion.
Original languageEnglish
Article number55
JournalDrones
Volume8
Issue number2
ISSN2504-446X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • machine vision
  • object detection
  • object tracking
  • unmanned aerial vehicles

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