Date of Award
Master of Science in Electrical Engineering
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Matthew E. Goda, PhD
An algorithm is designed to extract features from video of an air refueling tanker for use in determining the precise relative position of a receiver aircraft. The algorithm is based on receiving a known estimate of the tanker aircraft's position and attitude. The algorithm then uses a known feature model of the tanker to predict the location of those features on a video frame. A corner detector is used to extract features from the video. The measured corners are then associated with known features and tracked from frame to frame. For each frame, the associated features are used to calculate three dimensional pointing vectors to the features of the tanker. These vectors are passed to a navigation algorithm which uses extended Kalman filters, as well as data-linked INS data to solve for the relative position of the tanker. The algorithms were tested using data from a flight test accomplished by the USAF Test Pilot School using a C-12C as a simulated tanker and a Learjet LJ-24 as the simulated receiver. The system was able to provide at least a dozen useful measurements per frame, with and without projection error.
DTIC Accession Number
Spencer, James H., "Optical Tracking for Relative Positioning in Automated Aerial Refueling" (2007). Theses and Dissertations. 3143.