Distance measurement is necessary in a variety of fields, including targeting, surveillance, reconnaissance, robotics, and cartography. Today, the most commonly used method for distance measurement is laser ranging. However, laser rangers being active systems require more energy and cost more than passive systems, and they can be detected by the adversary. Stereoscopic vision, a passive system, requires low levels of power and allows covert operation. This
study considers stereoscopic vision with a compact, portable system, and investigates its essential parameters that can be optimized for accurate distance measurement. The main parameters addressed in this study are the distance between the two cameras, the kernel size used for correlation between the two images, and the quality of the image measured by the standard deviation of pixel values. The distance estimation accuracy is determined as a function of these parameters and the range to target. To represent a compact, portable system, the study considered parallel camera pairs placed 6 inches or 12 inches apart. Using small, visible light digital cameras, the slant range measurement error is less than 3% with 12 inches camera spacing, and a correlation kernel of 30 pixels in width. Larger camera spacing and shorter ranges to target increase the disparity and decrease the distance estimate error. Analytical error predictions explain the experimental results.