A Monocular Leader-follower System for Small Mobile Robots

Monnier, C., German, S., Ostapchenko, A.

Unmanned Systems Technology XIV, Proceedings of SPIE, vol 8387, Baltimore, MD (April 2012).

Current generation unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) control systems typically require operators to physically control a platform through teleoperation, even for simple tasks such as travelling from one location to another. While vision-based control technologies promise to significantly reduce the burden on UGV operators, most schemes rely on specialized sensing hardware, such as LIDAR or stereo cameras, or require additional operator-worn equipment or markers to differentiate the leader from nearby pedestrians. We present a system for robust leader-follower control of small UGVs using only a single monocular camera, which is ubiquitous on mobile platforms. The system allows a user to control a mobile robot by leading the way and issuing commands through arm/hand gestures, and differentiates between the leader and nearby pedestrians. The software achieves this by integrating efficient algorithms for pedestrian detection, online appearance learning, and kinematic tracking with a lightweight technique for camera-based gesture recognition.

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