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Efficient Terrain Following for a Micro Aerial Vehicle with Ultra-Wide Stereo Cameras

Müller, Marcus Gerhard and Stoneman, Samantha and von Bargen, Ingo and Steidle, Florian and Stürzl, Wolfgang (2020) Efficient Terrain Following for a Micro Aerial Vehicle with Ultra-Wide Stereo Cameras. In: 2020 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2020. 2020 IEEE Aerospace Conference, 2020-03-07 - 2020-03-14, Yellowstone Conference Center, Big Sky, Montana, USA. doi: 10.1109/AERO47225.2020.9172781. ISBN 978-172812734-7. ISSN 1095-323X.

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Official URL: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9172781


In recent years, Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) have drawn attention to the aerospace community. With such autonomous flying platforms, it is possible to explore foreign extraterrestrial bodies in an efficient and faster manner than other robotic platforms, like rovers. In addition, they can be equipped with a variety of different sensors. Cameras are especially well suited, since they are light, energy-efficient and deliver a broad spectrum of information. Following the underlying terrain in a defined height is a fundamental task for any exploring MAV. To accomplish this, many systems possess a designated height sensor, which in most cases only delivers a single height estimation taken from nadir. In such a setup, the MAV is just adjusting its height based on the current height estimation and does not take any terrain lying ahead into account, which results in delayed height adjustments. In this paper, we propose a novel method based on a wide-angle stereo camera setup, which is attached to the MAV, to overcome such problems. Due to the wide vertical field of view, the vehicle is able to not only measure its current height, but also the terrain lying ahead. Therefore, the MAV is able to perform a better terrain following compared to other methods, which use just a single nadir height sample. Our algorithm only needs to take the depth image, calculated by the stereo cameras, and the estimated gravity vector into account. Therefore, our method is very fast and computationally efficient, compared to other methods, which build up an entire map beforehand. As a result, the procedure presented here is also suitable for tiny flying systems with low computational capabilities and memory resources. The terrain following algorithm runs in real-time and on board the system, and is therefore also suitable for confined environments, like caves, and where communication delays are present. We evaluate our method with simulated data and real tests on an MAV. To demonstrate that our method works in a variety of different terrains, we show experiments with different slopes and obstacles in the flight path. We also compare our method to a basic terrain following by using just a single height measurement in a more classical approach.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/139466/
Document Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Title:Efficient Terrain Following for a Micro Aerial Vehicle with Ultra-Wide Stereo Cameras
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Stoneman, SamanthaUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-3581-4330UNSPECIFIED
Steidle, FlorianUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-6935-9810UNSPECIFIED
Journal or Publication Title:2020 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2020
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Keywords:autonomous aerial vehicles cameras collision avoidance height measurement image sensors mobile robots path planning remotely operated vehicles robot vision stereo image processing
Event Title:2020 IEEE Aerospace Conference
Event Location:Yellowstone Conference Center, Big Sky, Montana, USA
Event Type:international Conference
Event Start Date:7 March 2020
Event End Date:14 March 2020
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Space System Technology
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R SY - Space System Technology
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Project MOREX [SY], R - Robotic Science Explorer
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics (since 2013)
Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics (since 2013) > Perception and Cognition
Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics (since 2013) > Autonomy and Teleoperation
Deposited By: Durner, Maximilian
Deposited On:09 Dec 2020 22:43
Last Modified:24 Apr 2024 20:40

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