Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems

, Volume 69, Issue 1–4, pp 499–515 | Cite as

An Onboard Monocular Vision System for Autonomous Takeoff, Hovering and Landing of a Micro Aerial Vehicle



In this paper, we present an onboard monocular vision system for autonomous takeoff, hovering and landing of a Micro Aerial Vehicle (MAV). Since pose information with metric scale is critical for autonomous flight of a MAV, we present a novel solution to six degrees of freedom (DOF) pose estimation. It is based on a single image of a typical landing pad which consists of the letter “H” surrounded by a circle. A vision algorithm for robust and real-time landing pad recognition is implemented. Then the 5 DOF pose is estimated from the elliptic projection of the circle by using projective geometry. The remaining geometric ambiguity is resolved by incorporating the gravity vector estimated by the inertial measurement unit (IMU). The last degree of freedom pose, yaw angle of the MAV, is estimated from the ellipse fitted from the letter “H”. The efficiency of the presented vision system is demonstrated comprehensively by comparing it to ground truth data provided by a tracking system and by using its pose estimates as control inputs to autonomous flights of a quadrotor.


Monocular vision Onboard Vision Micro Aerial Vehicle Landing Ellipse Projective geometry 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shaowu Yang
    • 1
  • Sebastian A. Scherer
    • 1
  • Andreas Zell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany

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