A Prototype Polarimetric Camera for Unmanned Ground Vehicles
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Unmanned ground vehicles are increasingly employing a combination of active sensors such as LIDAR with passive sensors like cameras to perform at all levels of perception, which includes detection, recognition and classification. Typical cameras measure the intensity of light at a variety of different wavelengths to classify objects in different areas of an image. A polarimetric camera not only measures intensity of light, but can also determine its state of polarization. The polarization of light is the angle the electric field of the wave of light takes as it travels. A polarimetric camera can identify the state of polarization of the light, which can be used to segment highly polarizing areas in a natural environment, such the surface of water. The polarimetric camera designed and built for this thesis was created with low cost in mind, as commercial polarimetric cameras are very expensive. It uses multiple beam splitters to split incoming light into four machine vision cameras. In front of each machine vision camera is a linear polarizing filter that is set to a specific orientation. Using the data from each camera, the Stokes vector can be calculated on a pixel by pixel basis to determine what areas of the image are more polarized. Test images of various scenes that included running water, standing water, mud, and vehicles showed promise in using polarization data to highlight and identify areas of interest. This data could be used by a UGV to make more informed decisions in an autonomous navigation mode.
- Masters Theses