Tracking of railroads for autonomous guidance of UAVs : using Vanishing Point detection

University essay from KTH/Mekatronik

Abstract: UAVs have gained in popularity and the number of applications has soared over the past years, ranging from leisure to commercial activities. This thesis is discussing specifically railroad applications, which is a domain rarely explored. Two different aspects are analysed. While developing a new application or migrating a ground-based system to UAV platform, the different challenges encountered are often unknown. Therefore, this thesis highlights the most important ones to take into consideration during the development process. From a more technical aspect, the implementation of autonomous guidance for UAVs over railroads using vanishing point extraction is studied. Two different algorithms are presented and compared, the first one is using line extraction method whereas the second uses joint activities of Gabor filters. The results demonstrate that the applied methodologies provide good results and that a significant difference exists between both algorithms in terms of computation time. A second implementation tackling the detection of railway topologies to enable the use on multiple rail road configurations is discussed. A first technique is presented using exclusively vanishing points for the detection, however, the results for complex images are not satisfactory. Therefore, a second method is studied using line characteristics on top of the previous algorithm. This second implementation has proven to give good results.

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