This article presents an approach to the optical flow (OF) usage as a general navigation means providing the information about the linear and angular vehicle's velocities. The term of “OF” came from opto-electronic devices where it corresponds to a video sequence of images related to the camera motion either over static surfaces or set of objects. Even if the positions of these objects are unknown in advance, one can estimate the camera motion provided just by video sequence itself and some metric information, such as distance between the objects or the range to the surface. This approach is applicable to any passive observation system which is able to produce a sequence of images, such as radio locator or sonar. Here the UAV application of the OF is considered since it is historically
In recent years navigation on the basis of computation of the camera path and the distance to obstacles with the aid of field of image motion velocities (i.e. optical flow, OF) became highly demanded particularly in the area of relatively small and even micro unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Video sequences captured by onboard camera gives the possibility of the OF calculation with the aid of relatively simple algorithms like Lucas-Kanade. The complete OF is the linear function of linear and angular velocities of the UAV which provides an additional means for the navigation parameters estimation. Such UAV navigation approach presumes that on-board camera gives the video sequence of the underlying surface images providing the information about the UAV evolutions. Navigation parameters are extracted on the basis of exact OF formulas which gives the observation process description for estimation based on Kalman filtering. One can expect the high accuracy of the estimated parameters (linear and angular velocities) because their number is substantially less than the number of measurements (practically the number of the camera pixels).