MARESye: A hybrid imaging system for underwater robotic applications

Thumbnail Image
Aníbal Matos
Andry Maykol Pinto
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This article presents an innovative hybrid imaging system that provides dense and accurate 3D information from harsh underwater environments. The proposed system is called MARESye and captures the advantages of both active and passive imaging methods: multiple light stripe range (LSR) and a photometric stereo (PS) technique, respectively. This hybrid approach fuses information from these techniques through a data-driven formulation to extend the measurement range and to produce high density 3D estimations in dynamic underwater environments. This hybrid system is driven by a gating timing approach to reduce the impact of several photometric issues related to the underwater environments such as, diffuse reflection, water turbidity and non-uniform illumination. Moreover, MARESye synchronizes and matches the acquisition of images with sub-sea phenomena which leads to clear pictures (with a high signal-to-noise ratio). Results conducted in realistic environments showed that MARESye is able to provide reliable, high density and accurate 3D data. Moreover, the experiments demonstrated that the performance of MARESye is less affected by sub-sea conditions since the SSIM index was 0.655 in high turbidity waters. Conventional imaging techniques obtained 0.328 in similar testing conditions. Therefore, the proposed system represents a valuable contribution for the inspection of maritime structures as well as for the navigation procedures of autonomous underwater vehicles during close range operations.