Fault-Tolerant Vision for Vehicle Guidance in Agriculture

Morten Rufus Blas

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

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The emergence of widely available vision technologies is enabling for a wide range of automation tasks in industry and other areas. Agricultural vehicle guidance systems have benefitted from advances in 3D vision based on stereo camera technology. By automatically guiding vehicles along crops and other field structures the operator’s stress levels can be reduced. High precision steering in sensitive crops can also be maintained for longer periods of time as the driver is less tired. Safety and availabilitymust be inherent in such systems in order to get widespread market acceptance. To tolerate dropout of 3D vision, faults in classification, or other defects, redundant information should be utilized. Such information can be used to diagnose faulty behavior and to temporarily continue operation with a reduced set of sensors when faults or artifacts occur. Additional sensors include GPS receivers and inertial sensors. To fully utilize the possibilities in 3D vision, the system must also be able to learn and adapt to changing environments. By learning features of the environment new diagnostic relations can be generated by creating redundant feed-forward information about crop location. Also, by mapping the field that is seen by the stereo camera, it is possible to support the guidance system by storing salient information about the environment. By tracking the motion of the vehicle, vision output can be fused over time to create more reliable and robust estimates of crop location. This thesis approaches these challenges by considering systematic design methods using graph-based analysis. It is demonstrated how diagnostic relations can be derived and remedial actions can be done to maintain safety and healthy ii functioning of vision systems. The combination of redundant information from 3D vision, mapping, and aiding sensors such as GPS provide means to detect and isolate single faults in the system. In addition, learning is employed to adapt the system to variational changes in the natural environment. 3D vision is enhanced by learning texture and color information. Intensity gradients on small neighborhoods of pixels are shown to provide a superior approach to modeling texture information than other methods. Stochastic automatas using optimally quantized data is demonstrated as a strong approach for offline learning. It is considered how 3D vision provides labeling of training data that subsequently can be fed into a learning system. Statistical change detection theory is shown to be a suitable approach to detecting artifacts in the learning process so safe operation can be maintained. The system can be used to perform real-time classification using a fast online approach that is superior to state-of-the-art. Advances in tracking vehicle motion using 3D vision is demonstrated to allow unprecedented high accuracy maps to be created of the local environment. Features in the environment are extracted and tracked using novel feature detectors relying on approximating the Laplacian operator with a bi-level octagonal kernel. It is shown how these features display high levels of accuracy and stability while being considerable faster than similar feature detectors. Artifacts in 3D vision range measurements are demonstrated to be detectable by using the generated 3D maps and a probabilistic approach to fusing and comparing range measurements.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationKgs. Lyngby, Denmark
PublisherTechnical University of Denmark
Number of pages266
ISBN (Print)978-87-92465-22-1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • Robotics
  • Fault-tolerant Vision
  • Guidance
  • Agriculture Vehicles


Fault-tolerant Guidance for Precision Farming using 2D/3D Vision and Computer-Based Learning

Blas, M. R., Blanke, M., Madsen, T. E., Lind, M., Christensen, H. I., Schilling, K. & Madsen, T. E.

ErhvervsPhD-ordningen VTU


Project: PhD

Cite this

Blas, M. R. (2010). Fault-Tolerant Vision for Vehicle Guidance in Agriculture. Technical University of Denmark.