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tracking a moving object from a moving UAV robot

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Hi SoR team!

I'm sorry to jump in as a complete newbee, but I am.  Here's the first of my dilemmas:

I'm about to start building an autonomous UAV that should be able to fly ahead of a moving person guided by a video stream from an on board camera. The idea is to maintain the person in the center of the frame, while keeping a fixed distance ahead of him.

My questions is: How could I extract the position of my target person from the image stream, given that the UAV is moving as well as the target person?

All suggestions would be great - I'm sorry if this is a silly question...

I am more than available to help answer it.

With great appreciation for all the expertise I see here!


A camera is the only way to do it. Have the person wear a red shirt, and then have your system do blob detection on the color red. If the blob gets smaller, that means the person is walking away. If it gets bigger, the person is moving towards the robot. etc.

Make a ground-based mock-up first, using a simple robot, so you can test out your vision algorithms without worrying about crashing or the ~10 min battery lifetime of your UAV.

Hi Admin!

Thanks for the tips!

There is one issue, that the target will be dressed as it wants.  Do you think there's a way of identifying him at first, then using blob detection (or optical flow?) to track the "identified" target?

I'm really at a loss as to where to start here. Would you try to run OpenCV  on an arduino-based UAV? or something else?

Thanks for your help!

What you are asking for is *really* hard, to the point even the experts will be challenged. I've seen a Kinect on a UAV, so in theory it is possible. However, the Kinect doesn't work outside and the range isn't that great . . .

OpenCV will require a decent processor to run . . . Arduino isn't going to cut it :P

You could try getting a Raspberry Pi to run OpenCV, but expect a lot of pain if this is your first project . . .

ok, so let's forget the identification step.  Maybe I can give the target a red hat, or something like that?  Or even an infra-red beacon I was thinking...

Then the blob detection, would I just try to code it from scratch? Without the help of all those libraries?

What processor board would you recommend? Propeller? Arduino 32bit? Ardu-copter?

Thanks again.


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