Sensor Management for Target Tracking Applications
Abstract: Many practical applications, such as search and rescue operations and environmental monitoring, involve the use of mobile sensor platforms. The workload of the sensor operators is becoming overwhelming, as both the number of sensors and their complexity are increasing. This thesis addresses the problem of automating sensor systems to support the operators. This is often referred to as sensor management. By planning trajectories for the sensor platforms and exploiting sensor characteristics, the accuracy of the resulting state estimates can be improved. The considered sensor management problems are formulated in the framework of stochastic optimal control, where prior knowledge, sensor models, and environment models can be incorporated. The core challenge lies in making decisions based on the predicted utility of future measurements.In the special case of linear Gaussian measurement and motion models, the estimation performance is independent of the actual measurements. This reduces the problem of computing sensing trajectories to a deterministic optimal control problem, for which standard numerical optimization techniques can be applied. A theorem is formulated that makes it possible to reformulate a class of nonconvex optimization problems with matrix-valued variables as convex optimization problems. This theorem is then used to prove that globally optimal sensing trajectories can be computed using off-the-shelf optimization tools. As in many other fields, nonlinearities make sensor management problems more complicated. Two approaches are derived to handle the randomness inherent in the nonlinear problem of tracking a maneuvering target using a mobile range-bearing sensor with limited field of view. The first approach uses deterministic sampling to predict several candidates of future target trajectories that are taken into account when planning the sensing trajectory. This significantly increases the tracking performance compared to a conventional approach that neglects the uncertainty in the future target trajectory. The second approach is a method to find the optimal range between the sensor and the target. Given the size of the sensor's field of view and an assumption of the maximum acceleration of the target, the optimal range is determined as the one that minimizes the tracking error while satisfying a user-defined constraint on the probability of losing track of the target. While optimization for tracking of a single target may be difficult, planning for jointly maintaining track of discovered targets and searching for yet undetected targets is even more challenging. Conventional approaches are typically based on a traditional tracking method with separate handling of undetected targets. Here, it is shown that the Poisson multi-Bernoulli mixture (PMBM) filter provides a theoretical foundation for a unified search and track method, as it not only provides state estimates of discovered targets, but also maintains an explicit representation of where undetected targets may be located. Furthermore, in an effort to decrease the computational complexity, a version of the PMBM filter which uses a grid-based intensity to represent undetected targets is derived.
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