Infrastructure-free Shipdeck Tracking for Autonomous Landing
Shipdeck landing is one of the most challenging tasks for a rotorcraft. Current autonomous rotorcraft use shipdeck mounted transponders to measure the relative pose of the vehicle to the landing pad. This tracking system is not only expensive but renders an unequipped ship unlandable. We address the challenge of tracking shipdeck without additional infrastructure on the deck. We present two methods based on video and lidar that are able to track the shipdeck starting at a considerable distance from the ship. This redundant sensor design enables us to have two independent tracking systems. We show the results of the tracking algorithms in 3 different environments, 1. ﬁeld testing results on actual helicopter ﬂights, 2. in simulation with a moving shipdeck for lidar based tracking and 3. in laboratory using an occluded and moving scaled model of a landing deck for camera based tracking. The complimentary modalities allow shipdeck tracking under varying conditions.