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12 May 2005 IR depth from stereo for autonomous navigation
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Visual computations such as depth-from-stereo are highly dependent on edges and textures for the process of image correspondence. IR images typically lack the necessary detail for producing dense depth maps, however, sparse maps may be adequate for autonomous obstacle avoidance. We have constructed an IR stereo head for eventual UGV and UAV night time navigation. In order to calibrate the unit, we have constructed a thermal calibration checkerboard. We show that standard stereo camera calibration based on a checkerboard developed for calibrating visible spectrum cameras can also be used for calibrating an IR stereo pair, with of course hot/cold squares used as opposed to black/white squares. Once calibrated, the intrinsic and extrinsic parameters for each camera provide the absolute depth value if a left-right correspondence can be established. Given the general texture-less characteristic of IR imagery, selecting key salient features that are left-right stable and tractable is key for producing a sparse depth map. IR imagery, like visible and range maps is highly spatially correlated and a dense map can be obtained from a sparse map via propagation. Preliminary results from salient IR feature detection are investigated as well.
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John S. Zelek, Marc Holbein, Kiana Hajebi, Daniel C. Asmar, and David Cheng "IR depth from stereo for autonomous navigation", Proc. SPIE 5784, Infrared Imaging Systems: Design, Analysis, Modeling, and Testing XVI, (12 May 2005);

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