Event-Based Motion Capture System for Online Multi-Quadrotor Localization and Tracking

Craig Iaboni, Deepan Lobo, Ji Won Choi, Pramod Abichandani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Motion capture systems are crucial in developing multi-quadrotor systems due to their ability to provide fast and accurate ground truth measurements for tracking and control. This paper presents the implementation details and experimental validation of a relatively low-cost motion-capture system for multi-quadrotor motion planning using an event camera. The real-time, multi-quadrotor detection and tracking tasks are performed using a deep learning network You-Only-Look-Once (YOLOv5) and a k-dimensional (k-d) tree, respectively. An optimization-based decentralized motion planning algorithm is implemented to demonstrate the effectiveness of this motion capture system. Extensive experimental evaluations were performed to (1) compare the performance of four deep-learning algorithms for high-speed multi-quadrotor detection on event-based data, (2) study precision, recall, and F1 scores as functions of lighting conditions and camera motion, and (3) investigate the scalability of this system as a function of the number of quadrotors flying in the arena. Comparative analysis of the deep learning algorithms on a consumer-grade GPU demonstrates a 4.8× to 12× sampling/inference rate advantage that YOLOv5 provides over representative one-and two-stage detectors and a 1.14× advantage over YOLOv4. In terms of precision and recall, YOLOv5 performed 15% to 18% and 27% to 41% better than representative state-of-the-art deep learning networks. Graceful detection and tracking performance degradation was observed in the face of progressively darker ambient light conditions. Despite severe camera motion, YOLOv5 precision and recall values of 94% and 98% were achieved, respectively. Finally, experiments involving up to six indoor quadrotors demonstrated the scalability of this approach. This paper also presents the first open-source event camera dataset in the literature, featuring over 10,000 fully annotated images of multiple quadrotors operating in indoor and outdoor environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3240
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • YOLO
  • datasets for robotic vision
  • event-based cameras
  • k-d tree
  • motion capture systems
  • motion coordination
  • motion planning
  • multi-quadrotor systems
  • neural network
  • object detection
  • pose estimation


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