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Title: Single and multiple stereo view navigation for planetary rovers
Author: Bartolomé, Diego Rodríguez
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 3721
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis deals with the challenge of autonomous navigation of the ExoMars rover. The absence of global positioning systems (GPS) in space, added to the limitations of wheel odometry makes autonomous navigation based on these two techniques - as done in the literature - an inviable solution and necessitates the use of other approaches. That, among other reasons, motivates this work to use solely visual data to solve the robot’s Egomotion problem. The homogeneity of Mars’ terrain makes the robustness of the low level image processing technique a critical requirement. In the first part of the thesis, novel solutions are presented to tackle this specific problem. Detection of robust features against illumination changes and unique matching and association of features is a sought after capability. A solution for robustness of features against illumination variation is proposed combining Harris corner detection together with moment image representation. Whereas the first provides a technique for efficient feature detection, the moment images add the necessary brightness invariance. Moreover, a bucketing strategy is used to guarantee that features are homogeneously distributed within the images. Then, the addition of local feature descriptors guarantees the unique identification of image cues. In the second part, reliable and precise motion estimation for the Mars’s robot is studied. A number of successful approaches are thoroughly analysed. Visual Simultaneous Localisation And Mapping (VSLAM) is investigated, proposing enhancements and integrating it with the robust feature methodology. Then, linear and nonlinear optimisation techniques are explored. Alternative photogrammetry reprojection concepts are tested. Lastly, data fusion techniques are proposed to deal with the integration of multiple stereo view data. Our robust visual scheme allows good feature repeatability. Because of this, dimensionality reduction of the feature data can be used without compromising the overall performance of the proposed solutions for motion estimation. Also, the developed Egomotion techniques have been extensively validated using both simulated and real data collected at ESA-ESTEC facilities. Multiple stereo view solutions for robot motion estimation are introduced, presenting interesting benefits. The obtained results prove the innovative methods presented here to be accurate and reliable approaches capable to solve the Egomotion problem in a Mars environment.
Supervisor: Aouf, Nabil Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Autonomous systems ; Data fusion ; Navigation systems ; Planetary rovers