A Caltech Library Service

River segmentation for autonomous surface vehicle localization and river boundary mapping

Meier, Kevin and Chung, Soon-Jo and Hutchinson, Seth (2021) River segmentation for autonomous surface vehicle localization and river boundary mapping. Journal of Field Robotics, 38 (2). pp. 192-211. ISSN 1556-4959.

[img] Video (QuickTime) - Supplemental Material
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


We present a vision‐based algorithm that identifies the boundary separating water from land in a river environment containing specular reflections. Our approach relies on the law of reflection. Assuming the surface of water behaves like a horizontal mirror, the border separating land from water corresponds to the border separating three‐dimensional (3D) data which are either above or below the surface of water. We detect a river by identifying this border in a stereo camera. We start by demonstrating how to robustly estimate the normal and height of the water's surface with respect to a stereo camera. Then, we segment water from land by identifying the boundary separating dense 3D stereo data which are either above or below the water's surface. We explicitly show how to find this boundary by formulating and solving a graph‐based optimization problem using dense 3D stereo data near the shoreline and Dijkstra's algorithm. With the border of water identified, we validate the proposed river boundary detection algorithm by applying it to a chronologically sequential video sequence obtained from the visual‐inertial canoe data set. The intended purpose of the proposed river segmentation algorithm is to be used as a front‐end object recognition module for solving the simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) problem; therefore, using the extracted river boundary, we apply the recently developed visual‐inertial Curve SLAM algorithm to localize a canoe and create a sparse map that recovers the outline, shape, and dimensions of the shoreline of a river.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Meier, Kevin0000-0003-4000-1422
Chung, Soon-Jo0000-0002-6657-3907
Hutchinson, Seth0000-0002-3949-6061
Additional Information:© 2020 Wiley Periodicals LLC. Issue Online: 03 February 2021; Version of Record online: 25 September 2020; Manuscript accepted: 02 September 2020; Manuscript revised: 10 April 2020; Manuscript received: 05 June 2019. Funding Information: SMART scholarship for service program; Office of Naval Research. Grant Number: N00014‐14‐1‐0265.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Office of Naval Research (ONR)N00014‐14‐1‐0265
Subject Keywords:computer vision; GPS‐denied operation; mapping; marine robotics; SLAM
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200929-090809842
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Meier, K, Chung, S‐J, Hutchinson, S. River segmentation for autonomous surface vehicle localization and river boundary mapping. J Field Robotics. 2021; 38: 192–211.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105624
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:29 Sep 2020 16:27
Last Modified:08 Feb 2021 20:44

Repository Staff Only: item control page