A Vision-Based Guidance System for UAV Navigation and Safe Landing using Natural Landmarks

Research paper by A. Cesetti, E. Frontoni, A. Mancini, P. Zingaretti, S. Longhi

Indexed on: 21 Oct '09Published on: 21 Oct '09Published in: Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems


In this paper a vision-based approach for guidance and safe landing of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is proposed. The UAV is required to navigate from an initial to a final position in a partially known environment. The guidance system allows a remote user to define target areas from a high resolution aerial or satellite image to determine either the waypoints of the navigation trajectory or the landing area. A feature-based image-matching algorithm finds the natural landmarks and gives feedbacks to an onboard, hierarchical, behaviour-based control system for autonomous navigation and landing. Two algorithms for safe landing area detection are also proposed, based on a feature optical flow analysis. The main novelty is in the vision-based architecture, extensively tested on a helicopter, which, in particular, does not require any artificial landmark (e.g., helipad). Results show the appropriateness of the vision-based approach, which is robust to occlusions and light variations.