Towards distributed ATR using Subject Logic combination rules with a swarm of UAVs

Stephen O'Hara, Michael Simon, Qiuming Zhu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


In this paper, we present our initial findings demonstrating a cost-effective approach to Aided Target Recognition (ATR) employing a swarm of inexpensive Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). We call our approach Distributed ATR (DATR). Our paper describes the utility of DATR for autonomous UAV operations, provides an overview of our methods, and the results of our initial simulation-based implementation and feasibility study. Our technology is aimed towards small and micro UAVs where platform restrictions allow only a modest quality camera and limited on-board computational capabilities. It is understood that an inexpensive sensor coupled with limited processing capability would be challenged in deriving a high probability of detection (P d) while maintaining a low probability of false alarms (P fa). Our hypothesis is that an evidential reasoning approach to fusing the observations of multiple UAVs observing approximately the same scene can raise the P d and lower the P fa sufficiently in order to provide a cost-effective ATR capability. This capability can lead to practical implementations of autonomous, coordinated, multi-UAV operations. In our system, the live video feed from a UAV is processed by a lightweight real-time ATR algorithm. This algorithm provides a set of possible classifications for each detected object over a possibility space defined by a set of exemplars. The classifications for each frame within a short observation interval (a few seconds) are used to generate a belief statement. Our system considers how many frames in the observation interval support each potential classification. A definable function transforms the observational data into a belief value. The belief value, or opinion, represents the UAVs belief that an object of the particular class exists in the area covered during the observation interval. The opinion is submitted as evidence in an evidential reasoning system. Opinions from observations over the same spatial area will have similar index values in the evidence cache. The evidential reasoning system combines observations of similar spatial indexes, discounting older observations based upon a parameterized information aging function. We employ Subjective Logic operations in the discounting and combination of opinions. The result is the consensus opinion from all observations that an object of a given class exists in a given region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUnmanned Systems Technology IX
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes
EventUnmanned Systems Technology IX - Orlando, FL, United States
Duration: Apr 9 2007Apr 12 2007

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


ConferenceUnmanned Systems Technology IX
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityOrlando, FL


  • ATR
  • Evidential reasoning
  • ISR
  • Subjective logic
  • UAV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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