Dense 3D Reconstruction for Visual Tunnel Inspection using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Dense 3D Reconstruction for Visual Tunnel Inspection using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Title:
Dense 3D Reconstruction for Visual Tunnel Inspection using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
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International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems
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Publication Date:
09 November 2019
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Abstract:
Advances in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) opens venues for application such as tunnel inspection. Owing to its versatility to fly inside the tunnels, it can quickly identify defects and potential problems related to safety. However, long tunnels, especially with repetitive or uniform structures pose a significant problem for UAV navigation. Furthermore, post-processing visual data from the camera mounted on the UAV is required to generate useful information for the inspection task. In this work, we design a UAV with a single rotating camera to accomplish the task. Compared to other platforms, our solution can fit the stringent requirement for tunnel inspection, in terms of battery life, size and weight. While the current state-of-the-art can estimate camera pose and 3D geometry from a sequence of images, they assume large overlap, small rotational motion, and many distinct matching points between images. These assumptions severely limit their effectiveness in tunnel-like scenarios where the camera has erratic or large rotational motion, such as the one mounted on the UAV. This paper presents a novel solution which exploits Structure-from-Motion, Bundle Adjustment, and available geometry priors to robustly estimate camera pose and automatically reconstruct a fully-dense 3D scene using the least possible number of images in various challenging tunnel-like environments. We validate our system with both Virtual Reality application and experimentation with a real dataset. The results demonstrate that the proposed reconstruction along with texture mapping allows for remote navigation and inspection of tunnel-like environments, even those which are inaccessible for humans.
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