Dam wall detection and tracking using a Mechanically Scanned Imaging Sonar

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In dam inspection tasks, an underwater robot has to grab images while surveying the wall meanwhile maintaining a certain distance and relative orientation. This paper proposes the use of an MSIS (mechanically scanned imaging sonar) for relative positioning of a robot with respect to the wall. An imaging sonar gathers polar image scans from which depth images (range & bearing) are generated. Depth scans are first processed to extract a line corresponding to the wall (with the Hough transform), which is then tracked by means of an EKF (Extended Kalman Filter) using a static motion model and an implicit measurement equation associating the sensed points to the candidate line. The line estimate is referenced to the robot fixed frame and represented in polar coordinates (rho&thetas) which directly corresponds to the actual distance and relative orientation of the robot with respect to the wall. The proposed system has been tested in simulation as well as in water tank conditions ​
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