Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Electrical Engineering


Electrical Engineering


Lynne Slivovsky


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) provides a platform for many automated tasks and with an ever increasing advances in computing, these tasks can be more complex. The use of UAVs is expanded in this thesis with the goal of Search and Rescue (SAR), where a UAV can assist fast responders to search for a lost person and relay possible search areas back to SAR teams. To identify a person from an aerial perspective, low-level Histogram of Oriented Gradients (HOG) feature descriptors are used over a segmented region, provided from thermal data, to increase classification speed. This thesis also introduces a dataset to support a Bird’s-Eye-View (BEV) perspective and tests the viability of low level HOG feature descriptors on this dataset. The low-level feature descriptors are known as Boosted Histogram of Oriented Gradients (BHOG) features, which discretizes gradients over varying sized cells and blocks that are trained with a Cascaded Gentle AdaBoost Classifier using our compiled BEV dataset. The classification is supported by multiple sensing modes with color and thermal videos to increase classification speed. The thermal video is segmented to indicate any Region of Interest (ROI) that are mapped to the color video where classification occurs. The ROI decreases classification time needed for the aerial platform by eliminating a per-frame sliding window. Testing reveals that with the use of only color data iv and a classifier trained for a profile of a person, there is an average recall of 78%, while the thermal detection results with an average recall of 76%. However, there is a speed up of 2 with a video of 240x320 resolution. The BEV testing reveals that higher resolutions are favored with a recall rate of 71% using BHOG features, and 92% using Haar-Features. In the lower resolution BEV testing, the recall rates are 42% and 55%, for BHOG and Haar-Features, respectively.