The spectral signatures of vehicles in hyperspectral imagery exhibit temporal variations due to the preponderance of surfaces with material properties that display non-Lambertian bi-directional reflectance distribution functions (BRDFs). These temporal variations are caused by changing illumination conditions, changing sun-target-sensor geometry, changing road surface properties, and changing vehicle orientations. To quantify these variations and determine their relative importance in a sub-pixel vehicle reacquisition and tracking scenario, a hyperspectral vehicle BRDF sampling experiment was conducted in which four vehicles were rotated at different orientations and imaged over a six-hour period. The hyperspectral imagery was calibrated using novel in-scene methods and converted to reflectance imagery. The resulting BRDF sampled time-series imagery showed a strong vehicle level BRDF dependence on vehicle shape in off-nadir imaging scenarios and a strong dependence on vehicle color in simulated nadir imaging scenarios. The imagery also exhibited spectral features characteristic of sampling the BRDF of non-Lambertian targets, which were subsequently verified with simulations. In addition, the imagery demonstrated that the illumination contribution from vehicle adjacent horizontal surfaces significantly altered the shape and magnitude of the vehicle reflectance spectrum. The results of the BRDF sampling experiment illustrate the need for a target vehicle BRDF model and detection scheme that incorporates non-Lambertian BRDFs. A new detection algorithm called Eigenvector Loading Regression (ELR) is proposed that learns a hyperspectral vehicle BRDF from a series of BRDF measurements using regression in a lower dimensional space and then applies the learned BRDF to make test spectrum predictions. In cases of non-Lambertian vehicle BRDF, this detection methodology performs favorably when compared to subspace detections algorithms and graph-based detection algorithms that do not account for the target BRDF. The algorithms are compared using a test environment in which observed spectral reflectance signatures from the BRDF sampling experiment are implanted into aerial hyperspectral imagery that contain large quantities of vehicles.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Motor vehicles--Remote sensing; Multispectral imaging; Reflectance--Measurement; Machine learning

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Imaging Science (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


Emmett J. Ientilucci

Advisor/Committee Member

Michael Gartley

Advisor/Committee Member

Charles Bachmann


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at G70.4 .S84 2016


RIT – Main Campus