Stereo-Vision Based 3D Modeling and Localization for Unmanned Vehicles

Safety and operational demands require that operators of unmanned security and defense vehicles be located at safe distances. The capability of creating photo-realistic 3D models using on-board sensors on unmanned vehicles will improve the operatorsí situational awareness. Instant Scene Modeler (iSM) is a vision system for generating calibrated photo-realistic 3D models of unknown environments quickly using stereo image sequences. Equipped with iSM, unmanned military vehicles can capture stereo images and create 3D models to be sent back to the base station, while they explore unknown environments. Rapid access to 3D models will increase the operator situational awareness and allow better mission planning and execution, as the models can be visualized from different views and used for relative measurements. Moreover, iSM also recovers the camera motion, also known as the visual odometry. As wheel odometry error grows over time, this can help improve the wheel odometry for better localization. Apart from unmanned vehicles, iSM has also been used in forensics and mining applications, for creating 3D models of crime scenes and of the mine tunnels respectively.