Air-ground Matching: Appearance-based GPS-denied Urban Localization of Micro Aerial Vehicles

In this paper, we address the problem of globally localizing and tracking the pose of a camera-equipped micro aerial vehicle (MAV) flying in urban streets at low altitudes without GPS. An image-based global positioning system is introduced to localize the MAV with respect to the surrounding buildings. We propose a novel air-ground image-matching algorithm to search the airborne image of the MAV within a ground-level, geotagged image database. Based on the detected matching image features, we infer the global position of the MAV by back-projecting the corresponding image points onto a cadastral three-dimensional city model. Furthermore, we describe an algorithm to track the position of the flying vehicle over several frames and to correct the accumulated drift of the visual odometry whenever a good match is detected between the airborne and the ground-level images. The proposed approach is tested on a 2 km trajectory with a small quadrocopter flying in the streets of Zurich. Our vision-based global localization can robustly handle extreme changes in viewpoint, illumination, perceptual aliasing, and over-season variations, thus outperforming conventional visual place-recognition approaches. The dataset is made publicly available to the research community. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that studies and demonstrates global localization and position tracking of a drone in urban streets with a single onboard camera. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Published in:
Journal of Field Robotics
John Wiley & Sons

 Record created 2015-12-10, last modified 2018-09-13

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