Estimation of the Visibility Distance by Stereovision: A Generic Approach

Nicolas HAUTIERE  Raphael LABAYRADE  Didier AUBERT  

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E89-D   No.7   pp.2084-2091
Publication Date: 2006/07/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1361
DOI: 10.1093/ietisy/e89-d.7.2084
Print ISSN: 0916-8532
Type of Manuscript: Special Section PAPER (Special Section on Machine Vision Applications)
Category: Intelligent Transport Systems
meteorological visibility,  fog,  contrast,  stereovision,  sensor,  driving assistance,  intelligent transportation systems,  

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An atmospheric visibility measurement system capable of quantifying the most common operating range of onboard exteroceptive sensors is a key parameter in the creation of driving assistance systems. This information is then utilized to adapt sensor operations and processing or to alert the driver that the onboard assistance system is momentarily inoperative. Moreover, a system capable of either detecting the presence of fog or estimating visibility distances constitutes in itself a driving aid. In this paper, we first present a review of different optical sensors likely to measure the visibility distance. We then present our stereovision based technique to estimate what we call the "mobilized visibility distance". This is the distance to the most distant object on the road surface having a contrast above 5%. In fact, this definition is very close to the definition of the meteorological visibility distance proposed by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE). The method combines the computation of both a depth map of the vehicle environment using the "v-disparity" approach and of local contrasts above 5%. Both methods are described separately. Then, their combination is detailed. A qualitative evaluation is done using different video sequences. Finally, a static quantitative evaluation is also performed thanks to reference targets installed on a dedicated test site.