A high-speed Iterative Closest Point tracker on an FPGA platform
Belshaw, Michael Sweeney
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The Iterative Closest Point (ICP) algorithm is one of the most commonly used range image processing methods. However, slow operational speeds and high input band-widths limit the use of ICP in high-speed real-time applications. This thesis presents and examines a novel hardware implementation of a high-speed ICP object tracking system that uses stereo vision disparities as input. Although software ICP trackers already exist, this innovative hardware tracker utilizes the efficiencies of custom hardware processing, thus enabling faster high-speed real-time tracking. A custom hardware design has been implemented in an FPGA to handle the inherent bottlenecks that result from the large input and processing band-widths of the range data. The hardware ICP design consists of four stages: Pre-filter, Transform, Nearest Neighbor, and Transform Recovery. This custom hardware has been implemented and tested on various objects, using both software simulation and hardware tests. Results indicate that the tracker is able to successfully track free-form objects at over 200 frames-per-second along arbitrary paths. Tracking errors are low, in spite of substantial noisy stereo input. The tracker is able to track stationary paths within 0.42mm and 1.42degs, linear paths within 1.57mm and 2.80degs, and rotational paths within 0.39degs axis error. With further degraded data by occlusion, the tracker is able to handle 60% occlusion before a slow decline in performance. The high-speed hardware implementation (that uses 16 parallel nearest neighbor circuits), is more then five times faster than the software K-D tree implementation. This tracker has been designed as the hardware component of ‘FastTrack’, a high frame rate, stereo vision tracking system, that will provide a known object’s pose in real-time at 200 frames per second. This hardware ICP tracker is compact, lightweight, has low power requirements, and is integratable with the stereo sensor and stereo extraction components of the FastTrack’ system on a single FPGA platform. High-speed object tracking is useful for many innovative applications, including advanced spaced-based robotics. Because of this project’s success, the ‘FastTrack’ system will be able to aid in performing in-orbit, automated, remote satellite recovery for maintenance.