Evidence from behavioral experiments suggests that insects use the skyline as a cue for visual navigation. However, changes of lighting conditions, over hours, days or possibly seasons, significantly affect the appearance of the sky and ground objects. One possible solution to this problem is to extract the “skyline” by an illumination-invariant classification of the environment into two classes, ground objects and sky. In a previous study (Insect models of illumination-invariant skyline extraction from UV (ultraviolet) and green channels), we examined the idea of using two different color channels available for many insects (UV and green) to perform this segmentation. We found out that for suburban scenes in temperate zones, where the skyline is dominated by trees and artificial objects like houses, a “local” UV segmentation with adaptive thresholds applied to individual images leads to the most reliable classification. Furthermore, a “global” segmentation with fixed thresholds (trained on an image dataset recorded over several days) using UV-only information is only slightly worse compared to using both the UV and green channel. In this study, we address three issues: First, to enhance the limited range of environments covered by the dataset collected in the previous study, we gathered additional data samples of skylines consisting of minerals (stones, sand, earth) as ground objects. We could show that also for mineral-rich environments, UV-only segmentation achieves a quality comparable to multi-spectral (UV and green) segmentation. Second, we collected a wide variety of ground objects to examine their spectral characteristics under different lighting conditions. On the one hand, we found that the special case of diffusely-illuminated minerals increases the difficulty to reliably separate ground objects from the sky. On the other hand, the spectral characteristics of this collection of ground objects covers well with the data collected in the skyline databases, increasing, due to the increased variety of ground objects, the validity of our findings for novel environments. Third, we collected omnidirectional images, as often used for visual navigation tasks, of skylines using an UV-reflective hyperbolic mirror. We could show that “local” separation techniques can be adapted to the use of panoramic images by splitting the image into segments and finding individual thresholds for each segment. Contrarily, this is not possible for ‘global’ separation techniques.
Differt, D., & Möller, R. (2016). Spectral skyline separation: Extended landmark databases and panoramic imaging. Sensors (Switzerland), 16(10). https://doi.org/10.3390/s16101614