Vision-Based Road-Following Using a Small Autonomous Aircraft1 10-7803-8155-6/04/$17.00 © 2004 IEEE 2 2IEEEAC paper #1479, Version 3, Updated January 5, 2004 Conference Paper uri icon


  • This paper describes the vision-based control of a small autonomous aircraft following a road. The computer vision system detects natural features of the scene and tracks the roadway in order to determine relative yaw and lateral displacement between the aircraft and the road. Using only the vision measurements and onboard inertial sensors, a control strategy stabilizes the aircraft and follows the road. The road detection and aircraft control strategies have been verified by hardware in the loop (MIL) simulations over long stretches (several kilometers) of straight roads and in conditions of up to 5 m/s of prevailing wind. Hardware experiments have also been conducted using a modified radio-controlled aircraft. Successful road following was demonstrated over an airfield runway under variable lighting and wind conditions. The development of vision-based control strategies for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), such as the ones presented here, enables complex autonomous missions in environments where typical navigation sensor like GPS are unavailable.

author list (cited authors)

  • Frew, E., McGee, T., Kim, Z. W., Xiao, X., Jackson, S., Morimoto, M., ... Sengupta, R.

citation count

  • 110

publication date

  • January 2004