Towards people detection from fused time-of-flight and thermal infrared images
Obtaining accurate 3d descriptions in the thermal infrared (TIR) is a quite challenging task due to the low geometric resolutions of TIR cameras and the low number of strong features in TIR images. Combining the radiometric information of the thermal infrared with 3d data from another sensor is able to overcome most of the limitations in the 3d geometric accuracy. In case of dynamic scenes with moving objects or a moving sensor system, a combination with RGB cameras of Time-of-Flight (TOF) cameras is suitable. As a TOF camera is an active sensor in the near infrared (NIR) and the thermal infrared camera captures the radiation emitted by the objects in the observed scene, the combination of these two sensors for close range applications is independent from external illumination or textures in the scene. This article is focused on the fusion of data acquired both with a time-of-flight (TOF) camera and a thermal infrared (TIR) camera. As the radiometric behaviour of many objects differs between the near infrared used by the TOF camera and the thermal infrared spectrum, a direct co-registration with feature points in both intensity images leads to a high number of outliers. A fully automatic workflow of the geometric calibration of both cameras and the relative orientation of the camera system with one calibration pattern usable for both spectral bands is presented. Based on the relative orientation, a fusion of the TOF depth image and the TIR image is used for scene segmentation and people detection. An adaptive histogram based depth level segmentation of the 3d point cloud is combined with a thermal intensity based segmentation. The feasibility of the proposed method is demonstrated in an experimental setup with different geometric and radiometric influences that show the benefit of the combination of TOF intensity and depth images and thermal infrared images.