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A. Petit. Robust visual detection and tracking of complex object: applications to space autonomous rendez-vous and proximity operations. PhD Thesis Université de Rennes 1, December 2013.

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In this thesis, we address the issue of fully localizing a known object through computer vision, using a monocular camera, what is a central problem in robotics.A particular attention is here paid on space robotics applications, with the aims of providing a unified visual localization system for autonomous navigation purposes for space rendezvous and proximity operations. Two main challenges of the problem are tackled: initially detecting the targeted object and then tracking it frame-by-frame, providing the complete pose between the camera and the object, knowing its 3D CAD model. For detection, the pose estimation process is based on the segmentation of the moving object and on an efficient probabilistic edge-based matching and alignment procedure of a set of synthetic views of the object with a sequence of initial images. For the tracking phase, pose estimation is handled through a 3D model-based tracking algorithm, for which we propose three different types of visual features, pertinently representing the object with its edges, its silhouette and with a set of interest points. The reliability of the localization process is evaluated by propagating the uncertainty from the errors of the visual features. Qualitative and quantitative experiments have been performed on various synthetic and real data, with challenging imaging conditions, showing the efficiency and the benefits of the different contributions, and their compliance with space rendezvous applications

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