Traversability Estimation Techniques for Improved Navigation of Tracked Mobile Robots
Research Paper

Traversability Estimation Techniques for Improved Navigation of Tracked Mobile Robots

October 29, 2019

Bijo Sebastian - Dissertation submitted to the faculty of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy In Mechanical Engineering.


"This dissertation explores ways to improve autonomous navigation in unstructured terrain conditions, with specific applications to unmanned casualty extraction in disaster scenarios. Search and rescue applications often put the lives of first responders at risk. Using robotic systems for human rescue in disaster scenarios can keep first responders out of danger. To enable safe robotic casualty extraction, this dissertation proposes a novel rescue robot design concept named SAVER. The proposed design concept consists of several subsystems including a declining stretcher bed, head and neck support system, and robotic arms that conceptually enable safe casualty manipulation and extraction based on high-level commands issued by a remote operator. In order to enable autonomous navigation of the proposed conceptual system in challenging outdoor terrain conditions, this dissertation proposes improvements in planning, trajectory tracking control, and terrain estimation. The proposed techniques are able to take into account the dynamic effects of robot-terrain interaction including slip experienced by the vehicle, slope of the terrain and actuator limitations. The proposed techniques have been validated through simulations and experiments in indoor and simple outdoor terrain conditions. The applicability of the above techniques in improving tele-operation of rescue robotic systems in unstructured terrain is also discussed at the end of this dissertation."

Keywords: Traversability Estimation, Disturbance Rejection Control, Terrain Estimation, Tele-operation, Tracked Robot, Vehicle Slip

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