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Brightness Evaluation and Measurement
(with Application to Airport Lighting)

Supervisor: Dr K. Rafferty

Proposal Summary

In no other use of lighting is standardisation more important than in airport lighting. The landing lighting systems used at airports are intended to guide pilots during the landing and take-off phases of their flight. Considering that aviation spans the globe it is imperative that aircrews worldwide be provided with consistent lighting information.

This project looks at researching a novel autonomous device that will examine airport landing lighting and determine whether it is operating at the correct brightness and uniformity as dictated by aviation governing bodies. The proposed photometric measurement system is composed of cameras, lenses and filters. The device will be positioned within the cockpit of an aircraft and used to record images of the airport lighting as seen by the pilot during descent and touchdown. Subsequent analysis of these images will allow an automatic decision to be made regarding a lighting installation’s quality, in terms of uniformity of the complete pattern and individual luminaire intensity assessment.

In order to develop this autonomous device, pivotal research is required in a number of areas. These include new theory (lighting models, correction for blurred images), innovative practical measurements (real time data acquisition and compensation) and innovative data analysis for large scale systems (single and partial pixel coverage models, individual luminaire identification, etc.).

Aim of the Proposed Research

This project seeks to advance the state of the art of autonomous devices that can perceive and intelligently respond to their environment. The principal aim of this research proposal is the creation of a unique autonomous photometric measurement system, with associated algorithms and software, for the qualitative and quantative assessment of airport landing lighting installations. This automated assessment will encompass both the uniformity of the complete pattern and individual luminaire assessment. The research will, as a secondary aim, identify other applications for the technology of the measurement system.

Objectives of the Proposed Research

  • To advance the state of the art of autonomous devices that can perceive and intelligently respond to their environment.
  • To specify, develop and implement technologies for airport lighting assessment and management.
  • To investigate and specify how to interface and integrate a range of sensing technologies for data collection to a user friendly intelligent diagnostics system.
  • To set up laboratory based test facilities such that the vision sensors may be characterised in a precisely controlled and reproducible manner.
  • To develop pixel models for the camera detector for accurate measured pixel value to intensity relations which will encompass minimum luminaire size, edging effects of the imaged luminaire and error limits. This will also involve resolving the conflict between picture resolution, speed of movement and the number of pixel brightness levels within the camera detector.
  • To determine the effect that camera vibration, image blur and various weather conditions will have on the image data and to develop algorithms to eliminate this effect.
  • To develop algorithms, utilising image flow techniques, which can track identified luminaires throughout the image sequence. These should also allow for the close positioning of certain luminaires within the airport lighting configuration.