I do other things beside develop Ames Stereo Pipeline. I actually have to this month because my projects’ budgets are being used to pay for other developers. This is a good thing because it gets dug in developers like me out of the way for a while so that new ideas can come in. One of the projects I occasionally get to help out on is HET Spheres.
This is a picture of that robot. The orange thingy is the SPHERE robot designed by MIT. The blue puck is an air carriage so we can do frictionless testing in 1G. There have been 3 SPHERES robots onboard the ISS for quite some time now and they’ve been hugely successful. However we wanted to have an upgrade of the processing power available on the SPHERES. We also wanted better wireless networking, cameras, additional sensors, and a display to interact with the Astronauts. While our manager, lord, and savior Mark listed off all these requirements, we attentively played angry birds. That’s when it suddenly became clear that all we ever wanted was already available in our palms. We’ll use cellphones! So, though crude, we glued a cellphone to the SPHERE and called it a day.
Actually a lot more work happened then that and you can hear about that in Mark’s Google Tech Talk. I also wasn’t involved in any of that work. I tend to do other stuff that is SPHERES development related. But I spent all last week essentially auditing the console side code and the internal SPHERE GSP code. I remembered why I don’t like Java and Eclipse. (I have to type slower so Eclipse will autocomplete. :/) This all collimated into the following video of a test of having the SPHERE fly around a stuffed robot. We ran out of CO2 and our PD gains for orientation control are still out-of-whack, but it worked!
I’ve been sick all last week. That hasn’t stopped me from trying to process World View imagery in bulk on NASA’s Pleiades supercomputer. Right now I’m just trying to characterize how big of a challenge it is to process this large satellite data on a limited memory system for an upcoming proposal. I’m not pulling out all the tricks we have to insure that all parts of the image correlate. Still that hasn’t stopped ASP from producing this interesting elevation model of a section of Antarctica’s coastline, just off of Ross Island. Supposedly Marble Point Heliport is in this picture (QGIS told me it was the blue dot at the bottom of the coastline).
I’m using homography alignment, auto search range, parabola subpixel, and no hole filling. The output DEMs were rasterized at 5 meters per pixel. The crosses or fiducials in the image are posted 5 km apart. This represents a composite of 10 pairs of WV01 stereo imagery from 2009 to 2011 and no bundle adjustment or registration has been applied. The image itself is just a render in QGIS where the colorized DEM has had a hillshade render of the same DEM overlayed at 75% transparency.
I haven’t investigated why more of the mountains didn’t come out. When it looks like a whole elevation contour has been dropped, that’s likely because auto search range didn’t guess correctly. When it looks like a side of the mountain didn’t resolve, that’s likely because there was shadow or highlight saturation in the image. Possibly it could also be that ASP couldn’t correlate correctly on such a steep slope.
Ross Beyer, my co-worker at NASA, performed a Google Tech Talk early this month. It is now available online and you can watch it above. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but a certain stereo something is mentioned in this talk.
Hooray! New software for the masses! This release includes a bunch of bug fixes plus a few new features. Most importantly we’ve added support for a generic satellite camera model called the RPC model. RPCs are just big polynomials that map geodetic coordinates to image coordinates but most importantly just about every commercial satellite company ships an RPC with their imagery. This allows Ames Stereo Pipeline to process imagery from new sources that we haven’t previously been able to work with like GeoEye.
The picture on right is an example shaded colorized elevation model of the city Hobart in Australia. That image was created from example stereo imagery provided from GeoEye’s website and represents a difficult stereo pair for us to process. On the northeast corner of the image is a bunch of salt and pepper noise, which represents the water of the bay that we couldn’t correlate into 3D. In the southwest are mountains that have a dense forest with a texture that changes rapidly with viewing angle. Despite these problems you can see that our software was able to extract roads and buildings to some degree. This is interesting primarily because we wrote the software to work primarily on bare rock found on the Moon or Mars. Slowly we are improving so that we can support all kinds of terrain. For now, we recommend that our users apply ASP to imagery of bare rock, grasslands, snow, and ice for best results.
Also interesting is this colorized elevation model of Lucknow India created with Digital Globe sample imagery. The red patches are actually trees! Both of these stereo pairs are discussed as examples in our documentation. This means you can reproduce this work on your computer too!