This thesis focuses on visual multiple-target tracking (MTT) from a UAV. Typical state-of-the-art multiple-target trackers rely on an object detector as the primary detection source. However, object detectors usually require a GPU to process images in real-time, which may not be feasible to carry on-board a UAV. Additionally, they often do not produce consistent detections for small objects typical of UAV imagery.In our method, we instead detect motion to identify objects of interest in the scene. We detect motion at corners in the image using optical flow. We also track points long-term to continue tracking stopped objects. Since our motion detection algorithm generates multiple detections at each time-step, we use a hybrid probabilistic data association filter combined with a single iteration of expectation maximization to improve tracking accuracy.We also present a motion detection algorithm that accounts for parallax in non-planar UAV imagery. We use the essential matrix to distinguish between true object motion and apparent object motion due to parallax. Instead of calculating the essential matrix directly, which can be time-consuming, we design a new algorithm that optimizes the rotation and translation between frames. This new algorithm requires only 4 ms instead of 47 ms per frame of the video sequence.We demonstrate the performance of these algorithms on video data. These algorithms are shown to improve tracking accuracy, reliability, and speed. All these contributions are capable of running in real-time without a GPU.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type



unmanned aerial vehicle, multiple target tracking, motion detection, stationary object tracking, homography, probabistic data association, relative pose estimation, essential matrix, parallax