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Traversability estimation for a planetary rover via experimental kernel learning in a Gaussian process framework

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3 Author(s)
Ho, K. ; Australian Centre for Field Robot., Univ. of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia ; Peynot, T. ; Sukkarieh, S.

A critical requirement for safe autonomous navigation of a planetary rover is the ability to accurately estimate the traversability of the terrain. This work considers the problem of predicting the attitude and configuration angles of the platform from terrain representations that are often incomplete due to occlusions and sensor limitations. Using Gaussian Processes (GP) and exteroceptive data as training input, we can provide a continuous and complete representation of terrain traversability, with uncertainty in the output estimates. In this paper, we propose a novel method that focuses on exploiting the explicit correlation in vehicle attitude and configuration during operation by learning a kernel function from vehicle experience to perform GP regression. We provide an extensive experimental validation of the proposed method on a planetary rover. We show significant improvement in the accuracy of our estimation compared with results obtained using standard kernels (Squared Exponential and Neural Network), and compared to traversability estimation made over terrain models built using state-of-the-art GP techniques.

Published in:

Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2013 IEEE International Conference on

Date of Conference:

6-10 May 2013