Obstacle detection using a monocular camera
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The objective of this thesis is to develop a general obstacle segmentation algorithm for use on board a ground based unmanned vehicle (GUV). The algorithm processes video data captured by a single monocular camera mounted on the GUV. We make the assumption that the GUV moves on a locally planar surface, representing the ground plane. We start by deriving the equations of the expected motion field (observed by the camera) induced by the motion of the robot on the ground plane. Given an initial view of a presumably static scene, this motion field is used to generate a predicted view of the same scene after a known camera displacement. This predicted image is compared to the actual image taken at the new camera location by means of an optical flow calculation. Because the planar assumption is used to generate the predicted image, portions of the image which mismatch the prediction correspond to salient feature points on objects which lie above or below the ground plane, we consider these objects obstacles for the GUV. We assume that these salient feature points (called seed pixels ) capture the color statistics of the obstacle and use them to initialize a Bayesian region growing routine to generate a full obstacle segmentation. Alignment of the seed pixels with the obstacle is not guaranteed due to the aperture problem, however successful segmentations were obtained for natural scenes. The algorithm was tested off line using video captured by a camera mounted on a GUV.