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Freya Festl, Fabian Recktenwald, Chunrong Yuan, Hanspeter A Mallot; Detection of linear ego-acceleration from optic flow. Journal of Vision 2012;12(7):10. doi: 10.1167/12.7.10.
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Human observers are able to estimate various ego-motion parameters from optic flow, including rotation, translational heading, time-to-collision (TTC), time-to-passage (TTP), etc. The perception of linear ego-acceleration or deceleration, i.e., changes of translational velocity, is less well understood. While time-to-passage experiments indicate that ego-acceleration is neglected, subjects are able to keep their (perceived) speed constant under changing conditions, indicating that some sense of ego-acceleration or velocity change must be present. In this paper, we analyze the relation of ego-acceleration estimates and geometrical parameters of the environment using simulated flights through cylindrical and conic (narrowing or widening) corridors. Theoretical analysis shows that a logarithmic ego-acceleration parameter, called the acceleration rate ρ, can be calculated from retinal acceleration measurements. This parameter is independent of the geometrical layout of the scene; if veridical ego-motion is known at some instant in time, acceleration rate allows updating of ego-motion without further depth-velocity calibration.Results indicate, however, that subjects systematically confuse ego-acceleration with corridor narrowing and ego-deceleration with corridor widening, while veridically judging ego-acceleration in straight corridors. We conclude that judgments of ego-acceleration are based on first-order retinal flow and do not make use of acceleration rate or retinal acceleration.
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