The integration of underwater 3D data captured by acoustic and optical systems is a promising technique in various applications such as mapping or vehicle navigation. It allows for compensating the drawbacks of the low resolution of acoustic sensors and the limitations of optical sensors in bad visibility conditions. Aligning these data is a challenging problem, as it is hard to make a point-to-point correspondence. This paper presents a multi-sensor registration for the automatic integration of 3D data acquired from a stereovision system and a 3D acoustic camera in close-range acquisition. An appropriate rig has been used in the laboratory tests to determine the relative position between the two sensor frames. The experimental results show that our alignment approach, based on the acquisition of a rig in several poses, can be adopted to estimate the rigid transformation between the two heterogeneous sensors. A first estimation of the unknown geometric transformation is obtained by a registration of the two 3D point clouds, but it ends up to be strongly affected by noise and data dispersion. A robust and optimal estimation is obtained by a statistical processing of the transformations computed for each pose. The effectiveness of the method has been demonstrated in this first experimentation of the proposed 3D opto-acoustic camera.
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