The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLI-B3
09 Jun 2016
 | 09 Jun 2016


J. Kersten and V. Rodehorst

Keywords: Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Stereo Visual Odometry, Pose Estimation, Drift Reduction

Abstract. Autonomous navigation of indoor unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) requires accurate pose estimations usually obtained from indirect measurements. Navigation based on inertial measurement units (IMU) is known to be affected by high drift rates. The incorporation of cameras provides complementary information due to the different underlying measurement principle. The scale ambiguity problem for monocular cameras is avoided when a light-weight stereo camera setup is used. However, also frame-to-frame stereo visual odometry (VO) approaches are known to accumulate pose estimation errors over time. Several valuable real-time capable techniques for outlier detection and drift reduction in frame-to-frame VO, for example robust relative orientation estimation using random sample consensus (RANSAC) and bundle adjustment, are available. This study addresses the problem of choosing appropriate VO components. We propose a frame-to-frame stereo VO method based on carefully selected components and parameters. This method is evaluated regarding the impact and value of different outlier detection and drift-reduction strategies, for example keyframe selection and sparse bundle adjustment (SBA), using reference benchmark data as well as own real stereo data. The experimental results demonstrate that our VO method is able to estimate quite accurate trajectories. Feature bucketing and keyframe selection are simple but effective strategies which further improve the VO results. Furthermore, introducing the stereo baseline constraint in pose graph optimization (PGO) leads to significant improvements.