Model-based object recognition in range imagery typically involves matching the image data to the expected model data for each feasible model and pose hypothesis. Since the matching procedure is computationally expensive, the key to efficient object recognition is the reduction of the set of feasible hypotheses. This is particularly important for military vehicles, which may consist of several large moving parts such as the hull, turret, and gun of a tank, and hence require an eight or higher dimensional pose space to be searched.
The presented paper outlines techniques for reducing the set of feasible hypotheses based on an estimation of target dimensions and orientation. Furthermore, the presence of a turret and a main gun and their orientations are determined. The vehicle parts dimensions as well as their error estimates restrict the number of model hypotheses whereas the position and orientation estimates and their error bounds reduce the number of pose hypotheses needing to be verified.
The techniques are applied to several hundred laser radar images of eight different military vehicles with various part classifications and orientations. On-target resolution in azimuth, elevation and range is about 30 cm. The range images contain up to 20% dropouts due to atmospheric absorption. Additionally some target retro-reflectors produce outliers due to signal crosstalk. The presented algorithms are extremely robust with respect to these and other error sources. The hypothesis space for hull orientation is reduced to about 5 degrees as is the error for turret rotation and gun elevation, provided the main gun is visible.