Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Computer Science


Computer Science


Franz Kurfess


Topographic maps are an invaluable tool for planning routes through unfamiliar terrain. However, accurately planning routes on topographic maps is a time- consuming and error-prone task. One factor is the difficulty of interpreting the map itself, which requires prior knowledge and practice. Another factor is the difficulty of making choices between possible routes that have different trade-offs between length and the terrain they traverse.

To alleviate these difficulties, this thesis presents a system to automate the process of finding routes on scanned images of topographic maps. The system allows users to select any two points on a topographic map and identify their specific preferences for their route. This system extracts terrain and contour line data from topographic map images using image processing techniques and then uses the A* Search algorithm to find a route between the specified points. This system can be used as a starting point for hand-drawn routes, as a means of considering alternative routes, or to entirely replace drawing routes by hand. This thesis also presents a user study which shows that this system produces routes in a significantly shorter time than hand-drawn routes, and with a similar level of accuracy.