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Scouting algorithms for field robots using triangular mesh maps



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Labor shortage has prompted researchers to develop robot platforms for agriculture field scouting tasks. Sensor-based automatic topographic mapping and scouting algorithms for rough and large unstructured environments were presented. It involves moving an image sensor to collect terrain and other information and concomitantly construct a terrain map in the working field. In this work, a triangular mesh map was first used to represent the rough field surface and plan exploring strategies. A 3D image sensor model was used to simulate collection of field elevation information.A two-stage exploring policy was used to plan the next best viewpoint by considering both the distance and elevation change in the cost function. A greedy exploration algorithm based on the energy cost function was developed; the energy cost function not only considers the traveling distance, but also includes energy required to change elevation and the rolling resistance of the terrain. An information-based exploration policy was developed to choose the next best viewpoint to maximise the information gain and minimize the energy consumption. In a partially known environment, the information gain was estimated by applying the ray tracing algorithm. The two-part scouting algorithm was developed to address the field sampling problem; the coverage algorithm identifies a reasonable coverage path to traverse sampling points, while the dynamic path planning algorithm determines an optimal path between two adjacent sampling points.The developed algorithms were validated in two agricultural fields and three virtual fields by simulation. Greedy exploration policy, based on energy consumption outperformed other pattern methods in energy, time, and travel distance in the first 80% of the exploration task. The exploration strategy, which incorporated the energy consumption and the information gain with a ray tracing algorithm using a coarse map, showed an advantage over other policies in terms of the total energy consumption and the path length by at least 6%. For scouting algorithms, line sweeping methods require less energy and a shorter distance than the potential function method.



triangular mesh map, automatic sampling, agricultural robot, exploration, coverage, path planning, scouting, precision agriculture, 3D map building



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering


Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering


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