Fuerst et al. 1997/98 : A machine perception system for aircraft and helicopters using multiple sensor data for state estimation is presented. By combining conventional aircraft sensors like gyros, accelerometers, artificial horizon, aerodynamic measuring devices and GPS with vision data taken by conventional CCD-cameras mounted on a pan and tilt platform, the position of the craft can be determined as well as the relative position to runways and natural landmarks.
The vision data of natural landmarks are used to improve position estimates during autonomous missions. A built-in landmark management module decides which landmark should be focused on by the vision system, depending on the distance to the landmark and the aspect conditions. More complex landmarks like runways are modeled with different levels of detail that are activated dependent on range. A supervisor process compares vision data and GPS data to detect mis-tracking of the vision system e.g. due to poor visibility and tries to reinitialize the vision system or to set focus on another landmark available. During landing approach obstacles like trucks and airplanes can be detected on the runway.
The system has been tested in real-time within a hardware-in-the-loop simulation. Simulated aircraft measurements corrupted by noise and other characteristic sensor errors have been fed into the machine perception system; the image processing module for relative state estimation was driven by computer generated imagery. Results from real-time simulation runs are given.