Skip to main content

Obstacle Detection System for Small UAVs using ADS-B and Thermal Imaging

Abstract

Thermal Infrared (TIR) imaging is a promising technology which can provide enhanced capabilities to current vision-based Sense-and-Avoid (SAA) systems. It allows operation under extreme illumination conditions, such as direct sun exposure and during nighttime. This paper presents a lightweight obstacle detection system for small UAVs that integrates a TIR camera and an Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) receiver. Algorithms for the detection of flying obstacles in TIR images were developed and TIR images were experimentally compared with synchronized RGB images for validation. Matching between aircraft detected in TIR images and those reported by an ADS-B receiver was performed to obtain distance information to the visually detected aircraft. We experimentally proved that our system is able to enhance individual ADS-B and TIR detection capabilities by detecting aircraft under challenging illumination conditions at real-time frame rates while providing distance estimations to visual detections.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. ASTM F2411-07: Standard Specification for Design and Performance of an Airborne Sense-and-Avoid System (Withdrawn 2014), ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA. www.astm.org

  2. Administration, F.A.: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-05-28/pdf/2010-12645.pdf (2010). [Online; accessed 2016/29/02]

  3. Carrio, A., Pestana, J., Sanchez-Lopez, J.L., Suarez-Fernandez, R., Campoy, P., et al.: UBRISTES: UAV-based building rehabilitation with visible and thermal infrared remote sensing. In: Robot 2015: Second Iberian Robotics Conference, pp. 245–256. Springer International Publishing (2016)

  4. Council of European Union: Council regulation (EU) no 1027/2011. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:305:0035:0052:EN:PDF (2011). [Online; accessed 2016/29/02]

  5. Dey, D., Geyer, C., Singh, S., Digioia, M.: A cascaded method to detect aircraft in video imagery. The International Journal of Robotics Research, p. 0278364911412807 (2011)

  6. Fasano, G., Accardo, D., Moccia, A., Carbone, C., Ciniglio, U., Corraro, F., Luongo, S.: Multi-sensor-based fully autonomous non-cooperative collision avoidance system for unmanned air vehicles. J. Aerosp. Comput. Inf. Commun. 5(10), 338–360 (2008)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Foerster, K., Mullins, M., Kaabouch, N., Semke, W.: Flight testing of a right-of-way compliant ADS-B-based miniature sense and avoid system. In: AIAA Infotech@ Aerospace Conference (2012)

  8. Fu, C., Carrio, A., Olivares-Mendez, M.A., Suarez-Fernandez, R., Campoy, P.: Robust real-time vision-based aircraft tracking from unmanned aerial vehicles. In: IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2014, pp. 5441–5446. IEEE (2014)

  9. Geyer, C., Dey, D., Singh, S.: Prototype sense-and-avoid system for UAVs. Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Tech. Rep. CMU-RI-TR-09-09 (2009)

  10. Geyer, C., Singh, S., Chamberlain, L.J.: Avoiding collisions between aircraft: State of the art and requirements for uavs operating in civilian airspace (2008)

  11. Hajri, R.: UAV to UAV Target Detection and Pose Estimation. Ph.D. thesis, Monterey, California Naval Postgraduate School (2012)

  12. JiCheng, L., ZhengKang, S., Tao, L.: Detection of spot target in infrared clutter with morphological filter. In: Proceedings of the IEEE 1996 National, Aerospace and Electronics Conference, 1996. NAECON 1996, vol. 1, pp. 168–172. IEEE (1996)

  13. Lin, Y., Saripalli, S.: Sense and avoid for unmanned aerial vehicles using ADS-B. In: IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2015, pp. 6402–6407 (2015)

  14. Liu, T., Li, X.: Infrared small targets detection and tracking based on soft morphology top-hat and sprt-pmht. In: 3rd International Congress on Image and Signal Processing (CISP), 2010, vol. 2, pp. 968–972 (2010)

  15. Martel, F., Mullins, M., Kaabouch, N., Semke, W.: Flight testing of an ADS-B-based miniature 4D sense and avoid system for small UAS. In: AIAA Infotech@ Aerospace Conference (2011)

  16. Martel, F., Schultz, R.R., Semke, W.H., Wang, Z., Czarnomski, M.: Unmanned aircraft systems sense and avoid avionics utilizing ADS-B transceiver. In: AIAA Infotech @ Aerospace Conference, pp. 6–9 (2009)

  17. McCallie, D., Butts, J., Mills, R.: Security analysis of the ADS-B implementation in the next generation air transportation system. Int. J. Crit. Infrastruct. Prot. 4(2), 78–87 (2011)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. McGee, T.G., Sengupta, R., Hedrick, K.: Obstacle detection for small autonomous aircraft using sky segmentation. In: Proceedings of the 2005 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2005. ICRA 2005, pp. 4679–4684. IEEE (2005)

  19. Minwalla, C., Thomas, P., Ellis, K., Hornsey, R., Jennings, S.: Flight test evaluation of a prototype optical instrument for airborne sense-and-avoid applications. In: SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing, pp. 83,870R–83,870R. International Society for Optics and Photonics (2012)

  20. Naidoo, Y., Stopforth, R., Bright, G.: Development of an UAV for search and rescue applications. In: AFRICON, 2011, pp. 1–6. IEEE (2011)

  21. Olivares-Mendez, M.A., Fu, C., Ludivig, P., Bissyandé, T.F., Kannan, S., Zurad, M., Voos, H., Campoy, P.: Towards an autonomous vision-based unmanned aerial system against wildlife poachers. Sensors 15(12), 31,362–31,391 (2015)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Ramasamy, S., Sabatini, R., Gardi, A.: Avionics sensor fusion for small size unmanned aircraft sense-and-avoid. In: Metrology for Aerospace (Metroaerospace), 2014 IEEE, pp. 271–276. IEEE (2014)

  23. Yu, X., Zhang, Y.: Sense and avoid technologies with applications to unmanned aircraft systems: Review and prospects. Prog. Aerosp. Sci. 74, 152–166 (2015)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Zeng, M., Li, J., Peng, Z.: The design of top-hat morphological filter and application to infrared target detection. Infrared Phys. Technol. 48(1), 67–76 (2006)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Zsedrovits, T., Zarandy, A., Vanek, B., Peni, T., Bokor, J., Roska, T.: Visual detection and implementation aspects of a UAV see and avoid system. In: 20th European Conference on Circuit Theory and Design (ECCTD), 2011, pp. 472–475. IEEE (2011)

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work has been developed thanks to the financial support of the Spanish Ministry of Science in the project DPI2014-60139-R and by the European Commision Programm IRSES in the project UECIMUAVS. The authors would also like to thank Benjamin Stinnett for his valuable help with the flight tests.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Adrian Carrio.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Carrio, A., Lin, Y., Saripalli, S. et al. Obstacle Detection System for Small UAVs using ADS-B and Thermal Imaging. J Intell Robot Syst 88, 583–595 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10846-017-0529-2

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10846-017-0529-2

Keywords

  • Sense-and-Avoid
  • Aircraft detection
  • Obstacle detection
  • UAV
  • Collision avoidance
  • Thermal infrared
  • ADS-B