Tracking control of a UAV with a parallel visual processor

Colin Greatwood, Laurie Bose, Tom Richardson, Walterio Mayol-Cuevas, Jianing Chen, Stephen J. Carey, Piotr Dudek

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

16 Citations (Scopus)
374 Downloads (Pure)


This paper presents a vision-based control strategy for tracking a ground target using a novel vision sensor featuring a processor for each pixel element. This enables computer vision tasks to be carried out directly on the focal plane in a highly efficient manner rather than using a separate general purpose computer. The strategy enables a small, agile quadrotor Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) to track the target from close range using minimal computational effort and with low power consumption. To evaluate the system we target a vehicle driven by chaotic dual-pendulum trajectories. Target proximity and the large, unpredictable accelerations of the vehicle cause challenges for the UAV in keeping it within the downward facing camera’s field of view (FoV). A state observer is used to smooth out predictions of the target’s location and, importantly, estimate velocity. Experimental results also demonstrate that it is possible to continue to re-acquire and follow the target during short periods of loss in target visibility. The tracking algorithm exploits the parallel nature of the visual sensor, enabling high rate image processing ahead of any communication bottleneck with the UAV controller. With the vision chip carrying out the most intense visual information processing, it is computationally trivial to compute all of the controls for tracking onboard. This work is directed toward visual agile robots that are power efficient and that ferry only useful data around the information and control pathways.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2017 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2017)
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of a meeting held 24-28 September 2017, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781538626825
ISBN (Print)9781538626832
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems
ISSN (Electronic)2153-0866


Dive into the research topics of 'Tracking control of a UAV with a parallel visual processor'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this