Underwater Cave Mapping using Stereo Vision

Nicholas Weidner, Sharmin Rahman, Alberto Quattrini Li, Ioannis Rekleitis
In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2017.


Abstract: This paper presents a systematic approach for the 3-D mapping of underwater caves. Exploration of underwater caves is very important for furthering our understanding of hydrogeology, managing efficiently water resources, and advancing our knowledge in marine archaeology. Underwater cave exploration by human divers however, is a tedious, labor intensive, extremely dangerous operation, and requires highly skilled people. As such, it is an excellent fit for robotic technology, which has never before been addressed. In addition to the underwater vision constraints, cave mapping presents extra challenges in the form of lack of natural illumination and harsh contrasts, resulting in failure for most of the state-of- the-art visual based state estimation packages. A new approach employing a stereo camera and a video-light is presented. Our approach utilizes the intersection of the cone of the video-light with the cave boundaries: walls, floor, and ceiling, resulting in the construction of a wire frame outline of the cave. Successive frames are combined using a state of the art visual odometry algorithm while simultaneously inferring scale through the stereo reconstruction. Results from experiments at a cave, part of the Sistema Camilo, Quintana Roo, Mexico, validate our approach. The cave wall reconstruction presented provides an immersive experience in 3-D.




  author       = {Nicholas Weidner and Sharmin Rahman and Alberto Quattrini
		 Li and Ioannis Rekleitis},
  title        = {Underwater Cave Mapping using Stereo Vision},
  booktitle    = {IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
  year	       = {2017},
  pages        = {5709 - 5715},
  month        = {May},
  address      = {Singapore}

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