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A fast and mobile system for registration of low-altitude visual and thermal aerial images using multiple small-scale UAVs

Yahyanejad, Saeed, Rinner, Bernhard
ISPRS journal of photogrammetry and remote sensing 2015 v.104 pp. 189-202
aerial photography, altitude, data collection, disaster preparedness, humans, image analysis, lighting, monitoring, remote sensing, solar collectors
The use of multiple small-scale UAVs to support first responders in disaster management has become popular because of their speed and low deployment costs. We exploit such UAVs to perform real-time monitoring of target areas by fusing individual images captured from heterogeneous aerial sensors. Many approaches have already been presented to register images from homogeneous sensors. These methods have demonstrated robustness against scale, rotation and illumination variations and can also cope with limited overlap among individual images.In this paper we focus on thermal and visual image registration and propose different methods to improve the quality of interspectral registration for the purpose of real-time monitoring and mobile mapping. Images captured by low-altitude UAVs represent a very challenging scenario for interspectral registration due to the strong variations in overlap, scale, rotation, point of view and structure of such scenes. Furthermore, these small-scale UAVs have limited processing and communication power. The contributions of this paper include (i) the introduction of a feature descriptor for robustly identifying corresponding regions of images in different spectrums, (ii) the registration of image mosaics, and (iii) the registration of depth maps. We evaluated the first method using a test data set consisting of 84 image pairs. In all instances our approach combined with SIFT or SURF feature-based registration was superior to the standard versions. Although we focus mainly on aerial imagery, our evaluation shows that the presented approach would also be beneficial in other scenarios such as surveillance and human detection. Furthermore, we demonstrated the advantages of the other two methods in case of multiple image pairs.