This paper presents the functions to follow autonomously roads and terrain contours with a tracked vehicle. These capabilities were demonstrated as part of the German experimental PRogram of Intelligent Mobile Unmanned Systems (PRIMUS) phase C at the end of June 1999. The performance of the dynamic image processing based perception allows a traveling speed up to 50km/h on roads. The speed limit is given by the used vehicle Digitized Wiesel 2. The mentioned performance is independent of the structure and the type of road, like paved or unpaved roads with or without gravel, as many test trials indicate. Handling the extreme vehicle vibrations caused by the interaction between graveled ground and the vehicle tracks are a special challenge. Another driving function is to follow autonomously terrain contours like trenches, field borders, furrows or tracks of ahead driving vehicles. This type of function was demonstrated with a speed up to 25km/h in open terrain. Both driving functions are combined with an obstacle detection and avoidance capability, which is part of a separate perception mode. Although the focus of this paper lies on road and contour following, an overview of the overall architecture and hardware framework of the system is a given first. This is followed by the description of operation modes for the above mentioned driving functions, including the control flow between the robot vehicle and the Command & Control Station, which is integrated in a second Digitized Wiesel 2. After that the architecture of the perception approach is presented. A collection of experimental results and a discussion of those results will conclude the paper.
"Autonomous road and contour following with a tracked vehicle", Proc. SPIE 4024, Unmanned Ground Vehicle Technology II, (10 July 2000); doi: 10.1117/12.391647; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.391647