In computer vision and robotics, a typical task is to identify specific objects in an image and to determine each object's position and orientation relative to some coordinate system. This information can then be used, for example, to allow a robot to manipulate an object or to avoid moving into the object. The combination of position and orientation is referred to as the pose of an object, even though this concept is sometimes used only to describe the orientation. Exterior orientation and translation are also used as synonyms of pose.
The image data from which the pose of an object is determined can be either a single image, a stereo image pair, or an image sequence where, typically, the camera is moving with a known velocity. The objects which are considered can be rather general, including a living being or body parts, e.g., a head or hands. The methods which are used for determining the pose of an object, however, are usually specific for a class of objects and cannot generally be expected to work well for other types of objects.
The pose can be described by means of a rotation and translation transformation which brings the object from a reference pose to the observed pose[clarification needed]. This rotation transformation can be represented in different ways, e.g., as a rotation matrix or a quaternion.
The specific task of determining the pose of an object in an image (or stereo images, image sequence) is referred to as pose estimation. The pose estimation problem can be solved in different ways depending on the image sensor configuration, and choice of methodology. Three classes of methodologies can be distinguished: