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Net Journal 4

Development of robust image-matching technology that can be used in various real-world situations

Shun'ichi Kaneko, Doctor of Engineering

Shun'ichi Kaneko, Doctor of Engineering,
Professor of the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, Hokkaido University,
Division of Systems Science and Informatics's Research Group of Informatics for System Creation

Robust image-matching technology that can be applied in industry

---- Dr. Kaneko's laboratory is one of the largest in the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, and has undertaken many joint research projects with companies. Could you tell us about this?

Dr.Kaneko: Our laboratory conducts research and development on system information sciences, including an image-matching technology that can be used in robotics and mechatronics.  Image matching is like a picture-matching game - it is a technology to find designated objects or compare and identify them with other images using a camera mounted on a robot.  Image-matching technology is used in a wide range of fields, including assembly processes and visual inspections of production lines, video surveillance of roads and parking lots and general-purpose image measurement systems, and expansion of its application range and improvement of image-recognition techniques are required. Our laboratory aims to develop the technology to benefit the real world through industrial application.

Important factors in image matching are brightness and occlusion.  As an example, while the method known as CC (correlation coefficient) is a common image-matching technology used in various fields, it may not be able to distinguish objects if there are changes in their status, position, posture or size, illumination variation, occlusion or other unfavorable conditions. With ISC (increment sign correlation), which is our own method, highly robust image matching can be achieved even with local brightness variation or occlusion (Fig. 1, Ex. 1).

Fig.1-A

Fig.1-A

Fig.1-B

Fig.1-B

Robustness is important because the robots of the future are expected to perform the jobs of humans over a range of places and settings of society.  While robots that make precision products in unmanned factories are already in practical use, there will be an increasing incidence of humans and robots coexisting in the same space, such as robots for cleaning, nursing and disaster relief.  It will then be necessary for robots to have the strength to function correctly by accurately understanding the presence of people and objects and appropriately identifying their targets under various conditions, such as well-lit and dark places or adverse environments full of dust or smoke.

---- Pursuing robustness to ensure operation in the real world rather than the realization of accuracy and reliability in the laboratory - that is truly a direction toward industrial application.

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