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Title: Robust convex optimisation techniques for autonomous vehicle vision-based navigation
Author: Boulekchour, M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5351 9615
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis investigates new convex optimisation techniques for motion and pose estimation. Numerous computer vision problems can be formulated as optimisation problems. These optimisation problems are generally solved via linear techniques using the singular value decomposition or iterative methods under an L2 norm minimisation. Linear techniques have the advantage of offering a closed-form solution that is simple to implement. The quantity being minimised is, however, not geometrically or statistically meaningful. Conversely, L2 algorithms rely on iterative estimation, where a cost function is minimised using algorithms such as Levenberg-Marquardt, Gauss-Newton, gradient descent or conjugate gradient. The cost functions involved are geometrically interpretable and can statistically be optimal under an assumption of Gaussian noise. However, in addition to their sensitivity to initial conditions, these algorithms are often slow and bear a high probability of getting trapped in a local minimum or producing infeasible solutions, even for small noise levels. In light of the above, in this thesis we focus on developing new techniques for finding solutions via a convex optimisation framework that are globally optimal. Presently convex optimisation techniques in motion estimation have revealed enormous advantages. Indeed, convex optimisation ensures getting a global minimum, and the cost function is geometrically meaningful. Moreover, robust optimisation is a recent approach for optimisation under uncertain data. In recent years the need to cope with uncertain data has become especially acute, particularly where real-world applications are concerned. In such circumstances, robust optimisation aims to recover an optimal solution whose feasibility must be guaranteed for any realisation of the uncertain data. Although many researchers avoid uncertainty due to the added complexity in constructing a robust optimisation model and to lack of knowledge as to the nature of these uncertainties, and especially their propagation, in this thesis robust convex optimisation, while estimating the uncertainties at every step is investigated for the motion estimation problem. First, a solution using convex optimisation coupled to the recursive least squares (RLS) algorithm and the robust H filter is developed for motion estimation. In another solution, uncertainties and their propagation are incorporated in a robust L convex optimisation framework for monocular visual motion estimation. In this solution, robust least squares is combined with a second order cone program (SOCP). A technique to improve the accuracy and the robustness of the fundamental matrix is also investigated in this thesis. This technique uses the covariance intersection approach to fuse feature location uncertainties, which leads to more consistent motion estimates. Loop-closure detection is crucial in improving the robustness of navigation algorithms. In practice, after long navigation in an unknown environment, detecting that a vehicle is in a location it has previously visited gives the opportunity to increase the accuracy and consistency of the estimate. In this context, we have developed an efficient appearance-based method for visual loop-closure detection based on the combination of a Gaussian mixture model with the KD-tree data structure. Deploying this technique for loop-closure detection, a robust L convex posegraph optimisation solution for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) monocular motion estimation is introduced as well. In the literature, most proposed solutions formulate the pose-graph optimisation as a least-squares problem by minimising a cost function using iterative methods. In this work, robust convex optimisation under the L norm is adopted, which efficiently corrects the UAV’s pose after loop-closure detection. To round out the work in this thesis, a system for cooperative monocular visual motion estimation with multiple aerial vehicles is proposed. The cooperative motion estimation employs state-of-the-art approaches for optimisation, individual motion estimation and registration. Three-view geometry algorithms in a convex optimisation framework are deployed on board the monocular vision system for each vehicle. In addition, vehicle-to-vehicle relative pose estimation is performed with a novel robust registration solution in a global optimisation framework. In parallel, and as a complementary solution for the relative pose, a robust non-linear H solution is designed as well to fuse measurements from the UAVs’ on-board inertial sensors with the visual estimates. The suggested contributions have been exhaustively evaluated over a number of real-image data experiments in the laboratory using monocular vision systems and range imaging devices. In this thesis, we propose several solutions towards the goal of robust visual motion estimation using convex optimisation. We show that the convex optimisation framework may be extended to include uncertainty information, to achieve robust and optimal solutions. We observed that convex optimisation is a practical and very appealing alternative to linear techniques and iterative methods.
Supervisor: Aouf, N. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Unmanned aerial vehicles ; Guidance