Reliable track continuity is an important characteristic of multiple target tracking (MTT) algorithms. In the specific case of visually tracking multiple ground targets from an aerial platform, challenges arise due to realistic operating environments such as video compression artifacts, unmodeled camera vibration, and general imperfections in the target detection algorithm. Some popular visual detection techniques include Kanade-Lucas-Tomasi (KLT)-based motion detection, difference imaging, and object feature matching. Each of these algorithmic detectors has fundamental limitations in regard to providing consistent measurements. In this thesis we present a scalable detection framework that simultaneously leverages multiple measurement sources. We present the recursive random sample consensus (R-RANSAC) algorithm in a data fusion architecture that accommodates multiple measurement sources. Robust track continuity and real-time performance are demonstrated with post-processed flight data and a hardware demonstration in which the aircraft performs automated target following. Applications involving autonomous tracking of ground targets occasionally encounter situations where semantic information about targets would improve performance. This thesis also presents an autonomous target labeling framework that leverages cloud-based image classification services to classify targets that are tracked by the R-RANSAC MTT algorithm. The communication is managed by a Python robot operating system (ROS) node that accounts for latency and filters the results over time. This thesis articulates the feasibility of this approach and suggests hardware improvements that would yield reliable results. Finally, this thesis presents a framework for image-based target recognition to address the problem of tracking targets that become occluded for extended periods of time. This is done by collecting descriptors of targets tracked by R-RANSAC. Before new tracks are assigned an ID, an attempt to match visual information with historical tracks is triggered. The concept is demonstrated in a simulation environment with a single target, using template-based target descriptors. This contribution provides a framework for improving track reliability when faced with target occlusions.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Electrical and Computer Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





data fusion, multiple target tracking, recursive-RANSAC