LAKE WALES, Fla.—On its 10-year Anniversary, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is sponsoring a $100,000 grand challenge to the programming community. The Multi-View Stereo 3D Mapping Challenge hopes to crowdsource the difficult task of automating satellite 2D-to-3D imaging.
Logo of the Intelligence Advance Research Projects Activity (IARPA) supervised by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The ideal solution to three dimensional imagery -- as illustrated in these NASA photos -- is to use a stereo camera. However, all existing satellite imagery—not to mention the yottabytes of archived images—are taken in plain-old two-dimensions. IARPA wants to change all that by prompting programmers to compete to solve the 2D-to-3D problem, so it can be used by the entire Intelligence Community.
IARPA's Multi-View Stereo 3D Mapping Challenge, managed by IARPA Program Manager HakJae Kim, intends to benchmark the different 2D-to-3D algorithms submitted to the contest. The format they are requesting are high-resolution 3D point clouds that can be used to measure the height of any position on a satellite image. As such, the point-clouds will also allow the Intelligence community to make more accurate photogrammetry measurements—that is the "crows fly" as well as the "ground" distance between any two points in an image.
Besides the one-time prizes, the most innovative solutions providers will also be invited to collaborate with the intelligence community on related projects and turn-key solutions for specific problems. The most innovative solutions providers will also be offered opportunities to contribute to civilian programs in the White House’s Strategy for American Innovation.
IARPA develops innovative research activities for all 16 of the intelligence agencies under the umbrella of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The rules for the challenge state that the competition officially begins this September, but there is plenty of preparation that "solver" teams can perform—as described the challenge's resources page.
Example of NASA's current 3D imagery from cameras taking special "stereo pairs" converted to relief maps where color indicates the height here of the Gusev Crater and nearby areas where the Spirit landed and has roved among the Columbia Hills. The IARPA wants similar results from convention 2-D imagery from existing satellites.
When the challenge starts in September 2016, a leaderboard, as described in the rules page, will track progress of the competing solvers in real time. Stakeholders from industry, government and academia are expected to compete for the total $100,000 purse split among 10 prizes ranging from $4,000 for 1st Place to $500 for achieving a "Docker Incentive." Judging will focus on the most accurate and complete solutions to the stated challenge problems.
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times