Tracking of Ocean Surface Objects from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles with a Pan/Tilt Unit using a Thermal Camera
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This paper presents four vision-based tracking system architectures for marine surface objects using a fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a thermal camera mounted in a pan/tilt gimbal. The tracking systems estimate the position and velocity of an object in the North-East (NE) plane, and differ in how the measurement models are defined. The first tracking system measures the position and velocity of the target with georeferencing and optical flow. The states are estimated in a Kalman filter. A Kalman filter is also utilized in the second architecture, but only the georeferenced position is used as a measurement. A bearing-only measurement model is the basis for the third tracking system, and because the measurement model is nonlinear, an extended Kalman filter is used for state estimation. The fourth tracking system extends the bearing-only tracking system to let navigation uncertainty in the UAV position affect the target estimates in a Schmidt-Kalman filter. All tracking architectures are evaluated on data gathered at a flight experiment near the Azores islands outside of Portugal. The results show that various marine vessels can be tracked quite accurately.