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Although many systems for optical reading of printed matter have been developed and are now in wide use, comparatively little success has been achieved in the automatic interpretation of optical images of three-dimensional scenes. This paper is addressed to the latter problem and is specifically concerned with automatic recognition of aircraft types from optical images. An experimental system is described in which certain features called moment invariants are extracted from binary television images and are then used for automatic classification. This experimental system has exhibited a significantly lower error rate than human observers in a limited laboratory test involving 132 images of six aircraft types. Preliminary indications are that this performance can be extended to a wider class of objects and that identification can be accomplished in one second or less with a small computer.
Date of Publication: Jan. 1977