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Exterior inspection of an aircraft using a Pan-Tilt-Zoom camera and a 3D scanner moved by a mobile robot : 2D image processing and 3D point cloud analysis

Abstract : This thesis makes part of an industry oriented multi-partners project aimed at developing a mobile collaborative robot (a cobot), autonomous in its movements on the ground, capable of performing visual inspection of an aircraft during short or long maintenance procedures in the hangar or in the pre-flight phase on the tarmac. The cobot is equipped with sensors for realizing its navigation tasks as well as with a set of optical sensors which constitute the inspection head: an orientable Pan-Tilt-Zoom visible light camera and a three-dimensional scanner, delivering data in the format of two-dimensional images and three-dimensional point clouds, respectively. The goal of the thesis is to propose original approaches for processing 2D images and 3D clouds, with intention to make a decision with respect to the flight readiness of the airplane. We developed algorithms for verification of the aircraft items such as vents, doors, sensors, tires or engine as well as for detection and characterization of three-dimensional damages on the fuselage. We integrated a-priori knowledge on the airplane structure, notably numerical three-dimensional CAD model of the Airbus-A320. We argue that with investing effort to develop robust enough algorithms and with the help of existing optical sensors to acquire suitable data, we can come up with non-invasive, accurate, and time-efficient system for automatic airplane exterior inspection. The thesis work was placed in between two main requirements: develop inspection algorithms which could be as general as possible and also meet the specific requirements of an industry oriented project. Often, these two goals do not go along and the balance had to be made. On one side, we were aiming to design and assess the approaches that can be employed on other large structures, for ex. buildings, ships. On the other hand, writing source code for controlling sensors as well as integrating our whole developed source code with other modules on the real-time robotic system, were necessary in order to demonstrate the feasibility of our robotic prototype.
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Igor Jovančević. Exterior inspection of an aircraft using a Pan-Tilt-Zoom camera and a 3D scanner moved by a mobile robot : 2D image processing and 3D point cloud analysis. Optics / Photonic. Ecole des Mines d'Albi-Carmaux, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016EMAC0023⟩. ⟨tel-01687831⟩

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