The ability to precisely classify different types of terrain is extremely important for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). There are multiple situations in which terrain classification is fundamental for achieving a UAV's mission success, such as emergency landing, aerial mapping, decision making, and cooperation between UAVs in autonomous navigation. Previous research works describe different terrain classification approaches mainly using static features from RGB images taken onboard UAVs. In these works, the terrain is classified from each image taken as a whole, not divided into blocks; this approach has an obvious drawback when applied to images with multiple terrain types. This paper proposes a robust computer vision system to classify terrain types using three main algorithms, which extract features from UAV's downwash effect: Static textures- Gray-Level Co-Occurrence Matrix (GLCM), Gray-Level Run Length Matrix (GLRLM) and Dynamic textures- Optical Flow method. This system has been fully implemented using the OpenCV library, and the GLCM algorithm has also been partially specified in a Hardware Description Language (VHDL) and implemented in a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA)-based platform. In addition to these feature extraction algorithms, a neural network was designed with the aim of classifying the terrain into one of four classes. Lastly, in order to store and access all the classified terrain information, a dynamic map, with this information was generated. The system was validated using videos acquired onboard a UAV with an RGB camera.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2501
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Downwash effect
  • FPGA
  • GLCM
  • image processing
  • Optical flow
  • Terrain classification
  • Texture
  • UAV


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