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Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Conference Proceeding


SPIE Defense + Security

Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Proceedings of SPIE: Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) Systems and Applications XI



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Conference Title

SPIE Defense + Security

Conference Date

May 5-9, 2014


Baltimore, MD


We present a novel approach to use mountain drainage patterns for GPS-Denied navigation of small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) such as the ScanEagle, utilizing a down-looking fixed focus monocular imager. Our proposal allows extension of missions to GPS-denied mountain areas, with no assumption of human-made geographic objects. We leverage the analogy between mountain drainage patterns, human arteriograms, and human fingerprints, to match local drainage patterns to Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) rendered parallax occlusion maps of geo-registered radar returns (GRRR). Details of our actual GPU algorithm is beyond the subject of this paper, and is planned as a future paper. The matching occurs in real-time, while GRRR data is loaded on-board the aircraft pre-mission, so as not to require a scanning aperture radar during the mission. For recognition purposes, we represent a given mountain area with a set of spatially distributed mountain minutiae, i.e., details found in the drainage patterns, so that conventional minutiae-based fingerprint matching approaches can be used to match real-time camera image against template images in the training set. We use medical arteriography processing techniques to extract the patterns. The minutiae-based representation of mountains is achieved by first exposing mountain ridges and valleys with a series of filters and then extracting mountain minutiae from these ridges/valleys. Our results are experimentally validated on actual terrain data and show the effectiveness of minutiae-based mountain representation method. Furthermore, we study how to select landmarks for UAS navigation based on the proposed mountain representation and give a set of examples to show its feasibility. This research was in part funded by Rockwell Collins Inc.


This proceeding is published as Wang, Teng, Koray Çelik, and Arun K. Somani. "Meta-image navigation augmenters for GPS denied mountain navigation of small UAS." In Proceedings of SPIE 9076, Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) Systems and Applications XI. (2014): 907604. DOI: 10.1117/12.2050732. Posted with permission.

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