Date of Award
Master of Science
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Brian G Woolley, PhD.
Aerial refueling is essential to the United States Air Force (USAF) core mission of rapid global mobility. However, in-flight refueling is not available to remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) or unmanned aerial systems (UAS). As reliance on drones for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and other USAF core missions grows, the ability to automate aerial refueling for such systems becomes increasingly critical. New refueling platforms include sensors that could be used to estimate the relative position of an approaching aircraft. Relative position estimation is a key component to solving the automated aerial refueling (AAR) problem. Analysis of data from a one-seventh scale, real world refueling scenario demonstrates that the relative position of an approaching aircraft can be estimated at rates between 10 Hz and 30 Hz using stereo vision. Linear regression models on position estimate accuracies predict results reported by other research in the simulation domain, suggesting that real world accuracies are comparable to simulation domain accuracies reported by others. Further, by seeding the position estimation algorithm with previous position estimates, subsequent errors in position estimation are reduced
DTIC Accession Number
Denby, Bradley D., "Towards Automated Aerial Refueling: Real Time Position Estimation with Stereo Vision" (2016). Theses and Dissertations. 295.