Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Stephen C. Cain, PhD


Air-to-air refueling (AAR) has become a staple when performing long missions with aircraft. With modern technology, however, people have begun to research how to perform this task autonomously. Automated air-to-air refueling (A3R) is this exact concept. Combining many different systems, the idea is to allow computers on the aircraft to link up via the refueling boom, refuel, and detach before resuming pilot control. This document lays out one of the systems that is needed to perform A3R, namely, the system that extracts range data. While stereo cameras perform such tasks, there is interest in finding other ways of accomplishing the same mission. This research uses focus error to extract the same range from an image that can be obtained from a stereo camera system. This document will discuss how far A3R has come as well as the benefits of a focus error method. A simulation of how this process can function will also be shown, and will include a processing algorithm for extracting range information. A laboratory experiment section is introduced, which describes how this research can be pursued in the future.

AFIT Designator