The WITAS project aims to develop technologies to enable an Unmanned Airial Vehicle (UAV) to operate autonomously and intelligently, in applications such as traffic surveillance and remote photogrammetry. Many of the necessary control and reasoning tasks, e.g. state estimation, reidentification, planning and diagnosis, involve prediction as an important component. Prediction relies on models, and such models can take a variety of forms. Model design involves many choices with many alternatives for each choice, and each alternative carries advantages and disadvantages that may be far from obvious. In spite of this, and of the important role of prediction in so many areas, the problem of predictive model design is rarely studied on its own.
In this thesis, we examine a range of applications involving prediction and try to extract a set of choices and alternatives for model design. As a case study, we then develop, evaluate and compare two different model designs for a specific prediction problem encountered in the WITAS UAV project. The problem is to predict the movements of a vehicle travelling in a traffic network. The main difficulty is that uncertainty in predictions is very high, du to two factors: predictions have to be made on a relatively large time scale, and we have very little information about the specific vehicle in question. To counter uncertainty, as much use as possible must be made of knowledge about traffic in general, which puts emphasis on the knowledge representation aspect of the predictive model design.
The two mode design we develop differ mainly in how they represent uncertainty: the first uses coarse, schema-based representation of likelihood, while the second, a Markov model, uses probability. Preliminary experiments indicate that the second design has better computational properties, but also some drawbacks: model construction is data intensive and the resulting models are somewhat opaque.