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Robotic Antarctic meteorite search: outcomes

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6 Author(s)
D. S. Apostolopoulos ; Robotics Inst., Carnegie Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, PA, USA ; L. Pedersen ; B. N. Shamah ; K. Shillcutt
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Automation of the search for and classification of Antarctic meteorites offers a unique case for early demonstration of robotics in a scenario analogous to geological exploratory missions to other planets and to the Earth's extremes. Moreover, the discovery of new meteorite samples is of great value because meteorites are the only significant source of extraterrestrial material available to scientists. In this paper we focus on the primary outcomes and technical lessons learned from the first field demonstration of autonomous search and in situ classification of Antarctic meteorites by a robot. Using a novel autonomous control architecture, specialized science sensing, combined manipulation and visual servoing, and Bayesian classification, the Nomad robot classified five indigenous meteorites during an expedition to the remote site of Elephant Moraine in January 2000. Nomad's expedition proved the rudiments of science autonomy and exemplified the merits of machine learning techniques for autonomous geological classification in real-world settings. On the other hand, the expedition showcased the difficulty in executing reliable robotic deployment of science sensors and a limited performance in the speed and coverage of autonomous search.

Published in:

Robotics and Automation, 2001. Proceedings 2001 ICRA. IEEE International Conference on  (Volume:4 )

Date of Conference:

2001