Multi-target Detection, Tracking, and Data Association on Road Networks Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

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A cooperative detection and tracking algorithm for multiple targets constrained to a road network is presented for fixed-wing Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) with a finite field of view. Road networks of interest are formed into graphs with nodes that indicate the target likelihood ratio (before detection) and position probability (after detection). A Bayesian likelihood ratio tracker recursively assimilates target observations until the cumulative observations at a particular location pass a detection criterion. At this point, a target is considered detected and a position probability is generated for the target on the graph. Data association is subsequently used to route future measurements to update the likelihood ratio tracker (for undetected target) or to update a position probability (a previously detected target). Three strategies for motion planning of UAVs are proposed to balance searching for new targets with tracking known targets for a variety of scenarios. Performance was tested in Monte Carlo simulations for a variety of mission parameters, including tracking on road networks with varying complexity and using UAVs at various altitudes.