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3 June 2014 Tip-over prevention through heuristic reactive behaviors for unmanned ground vehicles
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Skid-steer teleoperated robots are commonly used by military and civilian crews to perform high-risk, dangerous and critical tasks such as bomb disposal. Their missions are often performed in unstructured environments with irregular terrain, such as inside collapsed buildings or on rough terrain covered with a variety of media, such as sand, brush, mud, rocks and debris. During such missions, it is often impractical if not impossible to send another robot or a human operator to right a toppled robot. As a consequence, a robot tip-over event usually results in mission failure. To make matters more complicated, such robots are often equipped with heavy payloads that raise their centers of mass and hence increase their instability. Should the robot be equipped with a manipulator arm or flippers, it may have a way to self-right. The majority of manipulator arms are not designed for and are likely to be damaged during self-righting procedures, however, which typically have a low success rate. Furthermore, those robots not equipped with manipulator arms or flippers have no self-righting capabilities. Additionally, due to the on-board camera frame of reference, the video feed may cause the robot to appear to be on at level ground, when it actually may be on a slope nearing tip-over. Finally, robot operators are often so focused on the mission at hand they are oblivious to their surroundings, similar to a kid playing a video game. While this may not be an issue in the living room, it is not a good scenario to experience on the battlefield. Our research seeks to remove tip-over monitoring from the already large list of tasks an operator must perform. An autonomous tip-over prevention behavior for a mobile robot with a static payload has been developed, implemented and experimentally validated on two different teleoperated robotic platforms. Suitable for use with both teleoperated and autonomous robots, the prevention behavior uses the force-angle stability measure, previously experimentally validated, to predict the likelihood of robot tip-over and trigger prevention behaviors. A unique heuristic approach to tip-over avoidance was investigated, wherein a set of evasive maneuvers that an expert teleoperator might take are activated when the tip-over-likelihood estimate passes a critical threshold. This control approach was validated on an iRobot Packbot as well as on a Segway RMP 440. The heuristic laws demonstrated the advantage of alerting operators to a tip-over scenario and gave them more time to correct the situation, as well as the ability to automatically initiate recovery on the y". This research shows promise in preventing dangerous scenarios that could damage a robot and/or compromise its mission, thus saving lives. It further provides a good foundation for follow-on development involving the expansion and integration of the prevention-control algorithms, to include movable payloads, environment manipulation, 2D or 3D look-ahead laser sensing and mapping, and adaptive path planning.
© (2014) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Kurt Talke, Leah Kelley, Patrick Longhini, and Garret Catron "Tip-over prevention through heuristic reactive behaviors for unmanned ground vehicles", Proc. SPIE 9084, Unmanned Systems Technology XVI, 90840L (3 June 2014);

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