In this letter, an improved phase correlation (PC) method based on 2-D plane fitting and the maximum kernel density estimator (MKDE) is proposed, which combines the idea of Stone’s method and robust estimator MKDE. The proposed PC method first utilizes a vector filter to minimize the noise errors of the phase angle matrix and then unwraps the filtered phase angle matrix by the use of the minimum costnetwork flow unwrapping algorithm. Afterward, the unwrapped phase angle matrix is robustly fitted via MKDE, and the slope coefficients of the 2-D plane indicate the subpixel shifts between images.
The experiments revealed that the improved method can effectively avoid the impact of outliers on the phase angle matrix during the plane fitting and is robust to aliasing and noise. The matching accuracy can reach 1/50th of a pixel using simulated data. The real image sequence tracking experiment was also undertaken to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed PC method with a registration accuracy of root-mean-square error better than 0.1 pixels.