News story: Extracting visual navigation data from open-source imagery

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QinetiQ has received Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) funding to find ways to extract open-source imagery to construct 3D point cloud models which could help with navigation without using global positioning systems (GPS).

QinetiQ has developed a tool chain that shows that open source data from ‘non-iconic’ locations is, on average, 580 times less dense than the highly curated datasets. Open-source data has a very low proportion of data with geo-reference information: on average 6% compared to 60% in curated test sets.

As open-source imagery and videography increase in this social media age, this technology would allow more detailed information to be extracted and put to use in a military environment. An example would be the ability to track the change of terrain over a period of time.

In the future this technology and technique of retrieving geo-location could provide significant advantages as an alternative location method especially when GPS is unavailable.

The potential development routes include: providing denser mapping from combinations of video and image data from more sources of open source data and satellite/aerial data; filtering out unusable data; modifying the geo-location algorithm to make it more resilient to GPS outliers; and a focus on alternative uses for the tool chain such as open source image analysis to improve on image data which lacks metadata.

QinetiQ is a British defence, science and technology organisation. Founded in 2001 it has its headquarters in Farnborough, Hampshire and has approximately 9000 employees worldwide.

About CDE


CDE funds novel, high-risk, high-potential-benefit research. We work with the broadest possible range of science and technology providers, including academia and small companies, to develop cost-effective capabilities for UK armed forces and national security.

CDE is part of Dstl.

Centre for Defence Enterprise


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Harwell Oxford
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OX11 0QX


Email [email protected]

Telephone +44 (0)30 67704236

Alternative number +44 (0)30 67704237


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