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Robotics 2018, 7(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics7010005

Close Range Tracking of an Uncooperative Target in a Sequence of Photonic Mixer Device (PMD) Images

German Space Operations Center, German Aerospace Center, Muenchener Str. 20, 82234 Wessling, Germany
This paper is extended version of an earlier conference paper Ksenia Klionovska, Jacopo Ventura, Heike Benninghoff, Felix Huber. Close range tracking of an Uncooperative Target in a Sequence of PMD Images. In proceeding of 1st IAA Conference on Space Situation Awareness (ICSSA), Orlando, FL, USA, 13–15 November 2017.
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Received: 22 November 2017 / Revised: 18 December 2017 / Accepted: 25 December 2017 / Published: 10 January 2018
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Abstract

This paper presents a pose estimation routine for tracking attitude and position of an uncooperative tumbling spacecraft during close range rendezvous. The key innovation is the usage of a Photonic Mixer Device (PMD) sensor for the first time during space proximity for tracking the pose of the uncooperative target. This sensor requires lower power consumption and higher resolution if compared with existing flash Light Identification Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors. In addition, the PMD sensor provides two different measurements at the same time: depth information (point cloud) and amplitude of the reflected signal, which generates a grayscale image. In this paper, a hybrid model-based navigation technique that employs both measurements is proposed. The principal pose estimation technique is the iterative closed point algorithm with reverse calibration, which relies on the depth image. The second technique is an image processing pipeline that generates a set of 2D-to-3D feature correspondences between amplitude image and spacecraft model followed by the Efficient Perspective-n-Points (EPnP) algorithm for pose estimation. In this way, we gain a redundant estimation of the target’s current state in real-time without hardware redundancy. The proposed navigation methodology is tested in the German Aerospace Center (DLR)’s European Proximity Operations Simulator. The hybrid navigation technique shows the capability to ensure robust pose estimation of an uncooperative tumbling target under severe illumination conditions. In fact, the EPnP-based technique allows to overcome the limitations of the primary technique when harsh illumination conditions arise. View Full-Text
Keywords: On-Orbit servicing; PMD sensor; uncooperative pose estimation; autonomous rendezvous On-Orbit servicing; PMD sensor; uncooperative pose estimation; autonomous rendezvous
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Klionovska, K.; Ventura, J.; Benninghoff, H.; Huber, F. Close Range Tracking of an Uncooperative Target in a Sequence of Photonic Mixer Device (PMD) Images. Robotics 2018, 7, 5.

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