A Vision-Based Automatic Safe Landing-Site Detection System
IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems
An automatic safe landing-site detection system is proposed for aircraft emer gency landing, based on visible information acquired by aircraft-mounted cameras. Emergency landing is an unplanned event in response to emergency situations. If, as is unfortunately usually the case, there is no airstrip or airfield that can be reached by the un-powered aircraft, a crash landing or ditching has to be carried out. Identifying a safe landing-site is critical to the survival of passengers and crew.
... ntionally, the pilot chooses the landing-site visually by looking at the terrain through the cock pit. The success of this vital decision greatly depends on the external environmental factors that can impair human vision, and on the pilot's flight experience that can vary significantly among pilots. Therefore, we propose a robust, reliable and efficient detection system that is expected to alleviate the negative impact of these factors. In this study, we focus on the detection mechanism of the proposed system and as sume that the image enhancement for increased visibility and image stitching for a larger field-of-view have already been performed on terrain images acquired by aircraft-mounted cameras. Specifically, we first propose a hierarchical elastic hori zon detection algorithm to identify ground in the image. Then the terrain image is divided into non-overlapping blocks which are clustered according to a "roughness" measure. Adjacent smooth blocks are merged to form potential landing-sites whose dimensions are measured with principal component analysis and geometric transfor mations. If the dimensions of a candidate region exceed the minimum requirement for safe landing, the potential landing-site is considered a safe candidate and highlighted on the human machine interface. At the end, the pilot makes the final decision by confirming one of the candidates, also considering other factors such as wind speed and wind direction, etc.