We propose a filtering technique that uses laser radar (ladar) data to detect a target’s three-dimensional (3D) coordinates and shape within an input scene. A two-dimensional ladar range image is converted into 3D space, and then the 3D optimum nonlinear filtering technique is used to detect the 3D coordinates of targets (including the target’s distance from the sensor). The 3D optimum nonlinear filter is designed to detect distorted targets (i.e., out-of-plane and in-plane rotations and scale changes) and to be noise robust. The nonlinear filter is derived to minimize the mean of the output energy in response to the input scene in the presence of disjoint background noise and additive noise and to maintain a fixed output peak for the members of the true-class target training set. The system is tested with real ladar imagery in the presence of background clutter. The background clutter used in the system evaluation includes false objects that are similar to the true targets. The correlation output of ladar images shows a dominant peak at the target’s 3D coordinates.
© 2004 Optical Society of America
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