Online Adaptive Rough-Terrain Navigation in Vegetation

Carl Wellington, Anthony (Tony) Stentz
IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), April 2004.


Autonomous navigation in vegetation is challenging because the vegetation often hides the load-bearing surface which is used for evaluating the safety of potential actions. It is difficult to design rules for finding the true ground height in vegetation from forward looking sensor data, so we use an online adaptive method to automatically learn this mapping through experience with the world. This approach has been implemented on an autonomous tractor and has been tested in a farm setting. We describe the system and provide examples of finding obstacles and improving roll predictions in the presence of vegetation. We also show that the system can adapt to new vegetation conditions.