Over the last decade, there has been an increasing interest in developing vision systems and technologies that support the operation of unmanned submersible platforms. Selected examples include the detection of obstacles and tracking of moving targets, station keeping and positioning, pipeline following, navigation, and mapping. These developments rely on images from standard CCD cameras. In this paper, we propose the use of these images for the construction of panoramic views that are then utilized for a number of applications, capabilities, and operational modes of underwater vehicles; scenarios that are also common in airborne and space robotics applications. We describe two prototype imaging systems in forward-look and down-look configurations, designed and built from 6 off-the-shelf security cameras, also addressing a number of issues for preprocessing the data to construct these views. We study each of a number of critical capabilities and describe the potential use of the panoramic imaging system, presenting various examples to demonstrate the applications.
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