Chapter 3Computer Vision for MAVs

Friedrich Fraundorfer

Institute for Computer Graphics and Vision, Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria

3.1 Introduction

This chapter discusses recent advances in the use of computer vision for the control of micro aerial vehicles (MAVs). The term MAV typically denotes a class of small-scale unmanned aerial vehicles like multirotor helicopters, for example, a quadrotor helicopter. Figure 3.1 shows such an MAV equipped with digital cameras for control and 3D mapping.

MAVs have a big potential to be used in a various number of applications, for example, search–and-rescue scenario, surveillance, industrial inspection, delivery services, and so on. MAVs can carry a variety of sensors; however, the small scale imposes a strict weight limit. Almost all types of MAVs, however, are able to carry a digital camera and this makes it possible for them to take aerial images or, in general, images from vantage points not reachable otherwise. Already this capability enables an immense variety of applications. Piloting an MAV, however, takes a lot of training and requires constant attention of the pilot. It also requires that the MAV operates within the line of sight. These limitations can be overcome by an autopilot system with the main task of keeping the MAV hovering on a spot. In outdoor environments, this can be achieved using GPS; however, a MAV operating indoors cannot rely on GPS and needs an alternative sensor for the autopilot system. Lately, ...

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