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Quantitative evaluation of stereo visual odometry for autonomous vessel localisation in inland waterway sensing applications.

Kriechbaumer, T. and Blackburn, K. and Breckon, T.P. and Hamilton, O. and Riva-Casado, M. (2015) 'Quantitative evaluation of stereo visual odometry for autonomous vessel localisation in inland waterway sensing applications.', Sensors., 15 (12). pp. 31869-31887.


Autonomous survey vessels can increase the efficiency and availability of wide-area river environment surveying as a tool for environment protection and conservation. A key challenge is the accurate localisation of the vessel, where bank-side vegetation or urban settlement preclude the conventional use of line-of-sight global navigation satellite systems (GNSS). In this paper, we evaluate unaided visual odometry, via an on-board stereo camera rig attached to the survey vessel, as a novel, low-cost localisation strategy. Feature-based and appearance-based visual odometry algorithms are implemented on a six degrees of freedom platform operating under guided motion, but stochastic variation in yaw, pitch and roll. Evaluation is based on a 663 m-long trajectory (>15,000 image frames) and statistical error analysis against ground truth position from a target tracking tachymeter integrating electronic distance and angular measurements. The position error of the feature-based technique (mean of ±0.067 m) is three times smaller than that of the appearance-based algorithm. From multi-variable statistical regression, we are able to attribute this error to the depth of tracked features from the camera in the scene and variations in platform yaw. Our findings inform effective strategies to enhance stereo visual localisation for the specific application of river monitoring.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons by Attribution (CC-BY) license (
Date accepted:09 December 2015
Date deposited:23 March 2016
Date of first online publication:17 December 2015
Date first made open access:No date available

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