This paper presents terrain mapping and path-planning techniques that are key issues for autonomous mobility of a planetary exploration rover. In this work, a LIDAR (light detection and ranging) sensor is used to obtain geometric information on the terrain. A point cloud of the terrain feature provided from the LIDAR sensor is usually converted to a digital elevation map. A sector-shaped reference grid for the conversion process is proposed in this paper, resulting in an elevation map with cylindrical coordinates termed as C2DEM. This conversion approach achieves a range-dependent resolution for the terrain mapping: a detailed terrain representation near the rover and a sparse representation far from the rover. The path planning utilizes a cost function composed of terrain inclination, terrain roughness, and path length indices, each of which is subject to a weighting factor. The multipath planning developed in this paper first explores possible sets of weighting factors and generates multiple candidate paths. The most feasible path is then determined by a comparative evaluation between the candidate paths. Field experiments with a rover prototype at a Lunar/Martian analog site were performed to confirm the feasibility of the proposed techniques, including the range-dependent terrain mapping with C2DEM and the multipath-planning method.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Control and Systems Engineering
- Computer Science Applications