Infrared images can distinguish targets from their backgrounds based on the radiation difference, which works well in all-weather and all-day/night conditions. By contrast, visible images can provide texture details with high spatial resolution and definition in a manner consistent with the human visual system. Therefore, it is desirable to fuse these two types of images, which can combine the advantages of thermal radiation information in infrared images and detailed texture information in visible images. In this work, we comprehensively survey the existing methods and applications for the fusion of infrared and visible images. First, infrared and visible image fusion methods are reviewed in detail. Meanwhile, image registration, as a prerequisite of image fusion, is briefly introduced. Second, we provide an overview of the main applications of infrared and visible image fusion. Third, the evaluation metrics of fusion performance are discussed and summarized. Fourth, we select eighteen representative methods and nine assessment metrics to conduct qualitative and quantitative experiments, which can provide an objective performance reference for different fusion methods and thus support relative engineering with credible and solid evidence. Finally, we conclude with the current status of infrared and visible image fusion and deliver insightful discussions and prospects for future work. This survey can serve as a reference for researchers in infrared and visible image fusion and related fields.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.