Journal of Geo-information Science ›› 2023, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (5): 1064-1074.doi: 10.12082/dqxxkx.2023.220827

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UAV Absolute Positioning Method based on Global and Local Deep Learning Feature Retrieval from Satellite Images

HOU Huitai(), LAN Chaozhen(), XU Qing   

  1. Institute of Geospatial Information, Information Engineering University, Zhengzhou 450001, China
  • Received:2022-10-25 Revised:2022-12-05 Online:2023-05-25 Published:2023-04-27
  • Contact: LAN Chaozhen;
  • Supported by:
    Basic Research Strengthening Program of China(173 Program)(2020-JCJQ-ZD-015-00)


With the development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology, it has been applied to various tasks in different fields. The prerequisite for a UAV to perform successful aerial tasks is accurate localization of its own position. Generally, traditional UAV navigation relies on the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) for localization. However, this system has disadvantages such as instability and susceptibility to interference, leading to situations where UAV cannot use GNSS for positioning, known as GNSS-denied environments. This study focuses on the navigation and positioning of UAV in GNSS-denied environments and proposes a UAV visual retrieval and positioning method that comprehensively utilizes local and global deep learning features of known satellite orthophotos. Specifically, ConvNeXt is used as the backbone network, combined with generalized mean pooling, to form a retrieval feature extraction algorithm for extracting global features of satellite and UAV images. A triplet loss function considering the overlapping area between images is designed for the retrieval and positioning tasks, and a corresponding training data set is established to train the feature extraction algorithm. Then, the satellite images within a certain range are retrieved according to the extracted global features, and the preliminary retrieval results are obtained. In order to further improve the accuracy of the retrieved target images, the LoFTR algorithm based on deep learning local features is used for matching and reordering. Since the LoFTR algorithm has many mismatches, RANSAC is used to screen the matching results. Experiments using the test datasets we established demonstrate that the proposed method obtains an average accuracy of 90.9% and an average time cost of 2.22 seconds for retrieving satellite images in different seasons from fully overlapped UAV simulated images. The accuracy of the UAV real image test is 87.5%, which can meet the UAV positioning requirements.

Key words: GNSS-denied, deep learning features, convolutional neural network, image retrieval, visual localization, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, local feature, global feature