Application of Forward-Scan Sonar Stereo for 3-D Scene Reconstruction

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5 Scopus citations


New generation of underwater 2-D forward-look sonar video cameras operating at near and over 1-MHz frequency offer images with enhanced target details. Within their limited range of only tens of meters, they are the most suitable imaging systems for conducting visually guided missions in turbid waters. These include, but are not limited to inspecting underwater structures for routine maintenance, search, and surveillance, the detection, localization, and identification of small sought after objects, as well as target-based positioning and navigation. To this end, the automatic 3-D reconstruction of 3-D target shape and establishing the 3-D spatial location of interest points are highly desired capabilities in many such operations. As achieved with 2-D optical images, multiple images from nearby positions may be utilized. This paper investigates the estimation of 3-D point locations from two overlapping images collected with two forward-scan (FS) sonar systems in stereo configuration, or with one FS sonar at known relative poses, established from visual motion cues. The first contribution includes the analysis of a sonar stereo epipolar geometry. Beyond reducing the correspondence problem to a 1-D search along epipolar curves, this reveals unique properties associated with sonar measurements of range and azimuth angle. Next, certain linear closed-form reconstruction solutions are presented, their degeneracies are established, and adjustments under degenerate conditions are proposed. Two preferred method for the degenerate and nondegenerate stereo configurations are identified: a regularization-based method and one employing a range constraint approximation, respectively. These primarily provide the initial estimate for an iterative nonlinear optimization scheme based on gradient descent. Finally, the results of experiments with synthetic data are presented to assess various estimation methods, and with real data sets to demonstrate performance under two subsea operational scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8516375
Pages (from-to)547-562
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • 2-D forward-scan (FS) sonar imaging
  • Epipolar geometry
  • multiple-view 3-D reconstruction
  • stereo vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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