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A Visual System for Autonomous Air-to-Air Refuelling Tasks


A hierarchical visual tracking algorithm is proposed and developed for the purposes of tracking a drogue during the capture stage of autonomous aerial refuelling, and of estimating its 3D position.

Intended to be applied in real time to a video stream from a single monocular camera mounted on the receiver aircraft, the algorithm is shown to be highly robust, and capable of tracking large, rapid drogue motions within the frame of reference. The proposed strategy has been tested using a complex robotic testbed and with actual flight hardware consisting of a full size probe and drogue.