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The Ground Surveillance Robot (GSR) project has proceeded continuously since the Fall of 1980, and in that time an autonomous vehicle design and some degree of implementation has been achieved. The vehicle design has been partitioned into sensor, control, and planning subsystems. A distributed blackboard scheme has been developed which provides the mechanism by which these subsystems are coordinated. Vehicle position and orientation are supplied by vehicle attitude and navigation sensor subsystems. Obstacle avoidance capability has been implemented by fusing information from vision and acoustic ranging sensors into local goals and avoidance points. The influence of these points is combined through potential field techniques to accomplish obstacle avoidance control. Distant terrain characteristics are identified using information from a gray-level vision system, a color vision system, and a computer-controlled laser ranging sensor. These characteristics are used by a general planning engine to develop the desired path to a visible goal in the direction of the final goal. Progress to the final goal consists of a succession of movements from one distant but visible intermediate goal to another. The experience from implementing this autonomous vehicle has indicated the need for an integrated set of debugging tools which make the faults in subsystem hardware and software more distinguishable.
Date of Publication: June 1987