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Human and Fire Detection from High Altitude UAV Images

Illegal migration as well as wildfires constitute commonplace situations in southern European countries, where the mountainous terrain and thick forests make the surveillance and location of these incidents a tall task. This territory could benefit from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) equipped with optical and thermal sensors in conjunction with sophisticated image processing and computer vision algorithms, in order to detect suspicious activity or prevent the spreading of a fire. Taking into account that the flight height is about to two kilometers, human and fire detection algorithms are mainly based on blob detection. For both processes thermal imaging is used in order to improve the accuracy of the algorithms, while in the case of human recognition information like movement patterns as well as shadow size and shape are also considered. For fire detection a blob detector is utilized in conjunction with a color based descriptor, applied to thermal and optical images, respectively. Unlike fire, human detection is a more demanding process resulting in a more sophisticated and complex algorithm. The main difficulty of human detection originates from the high flight altitude. In images taken from high altitude where the ground sample distance is not small enough, people appear as small blobs occupying few pixels, leading corresponding research works to be based on blob detectors to detect humans.

Their shadows as well as motion detection and object tracking can then be used to determine whether these regions of interest do depict humans. This work follows this motif as well, nevertheless, its main novelty lies in the fact that the human detection process is adapted for high altitude and vertical shooting images in contrast with the majority of other similar works where lower altitudes and different shooting angles are considered. Additionally, in the interest of making our algorithms as fast as possible in order for them to be used in real time during the UAV flights- parallel image processing with the help of a specialized hardware device based on Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) is being worked on.