Publications / 2013 Proceedings of the 30th ISARC, Montréal, Canada

Autonomous Navigation and Mapping System for MRPTA Rover

V. Polotski, F.J. Ballotta, J. James
Pages 995-1003 (2013 Proceedings of the 30th ISARC, Montréal, Canada, ISBN 978-1-62993-294-1, ISSN 2413-5844)

Initiated and financed by the Canadian Space Agency, Micro-Rover Platform with Tooling Arm (MRPTA) project has targeted the development of a robotic system with remote control and autonomous navigation capabilities for testing a large variety of analogous planetary missions. Although developed for planetary exploration, the navigation system is highly suitable to such areas of application as construction and in mining. Autonomous navigation system is capable of moving the platform to predefined position(s)/orientation(s) while continuously mapping the terrain, assessing its traversability and choosing most appropriate path to follow. Designed according to the JAUS (Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems) framework, the system consists of several interconnected components. Following components are of particular importance: Pose Estimator (PE), Terrain Evaluator (TE), Map Manager (MP), and Path Planner (PP). The PE uses a minimal sensor configuration consisting of an azimuth gyroscope, inclinometer and wheel odometry. The PE provides reliable pose estimates in spite of pronounced slippage by employing extensive use of fused data. The TE uses a nodding laser scanner which continuously sweeps the area in front of the platform and constructs a “traversability grid” (TG) of the surrounding area. Multiple TGs are constantly constructed along the platform motion path are combined into a terrain map maintained by the MP. The PP uses this map to compute a motion path Obtained path is executed by the motion controller and remains current until it is contradicted by the most recent map – at which point it is re-planned. This paper addresses integration issues, lessons learned and also outlines the possible applications for construction and mining.

Keywords: Autonomous navigation, planning, control, mapping, planetary exploration, data fusion