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Road-boundary detection is an integral and important function in advanced driver-assistance systems and autonomous vehicle navigation systems. A prominent feature of roads in urban, semi-urban, and similar environments, such as in theme parks, campus sites, industrial estates, science parks, and the like, is curbs on either side defining the road's boundary. Although vision is the most common and popular sensing modality used by researchers and automotive manufacturers for road-lane detection, it can pose formidable challenges in detecting road curbs under poor illumination, bad weather, and complex driving environments. This paper proposes a novel method based on extended Kalman filtering for fast detection and tracking of road curbs using successive range/bearing readings obtained from a scanning two-dimensional ladar measurement system. As compared with millimeter wave radar methods reported in the literature, the proposed technique is simpler and computationally more efficient. This is the first of its kind reported in the literature. Qualitative experimental results are presented from the application of the technique to a campus site environment to demonstrate the viability, effectiveness, and robustness.
Date of Publication: June 2004