• A novel low-cost autonomous 3D LIDAR system

      Dial, Ryker L.; Bogosyan, Seta; Hatfield, Michael; Lawlor, Orion (2018-05)
      To aid in humanity's efforts to colonize alien worlds, NASA's Robotic Mining Competition pits universities against one another to design autonomous mining robots that can extract the materials necessary for producing oxygen, water, fuel, and infrastructure. To mine autonomously on the uneven terrain, the robot must be able to produce a 3D map of its surroundings and navigate around obstacles. However, sensors that can be used for 3D mapping are typically expensive, have high computational requirements, and/or are designed primarily for indoor use. This thesis describes the creation of a novel low-cost 3D mapping system utilizing a pair of rotating LIDAR sensors, attached to a mobile testing platform. Also, the use of this system for 3D obstacle detection and navigation is shown. Finally, the use of deep learning to improve the scanning efficiency of the sensors is investigated.
    • Small scale implementation of a robotic urban search and rescue network

      Kibler, Steven G. (2012-05)
      With the advancement of robotics technologies, it is now possible to use robots for high risk jobs that have historically been accomplished by humans. One such example is the use of robots for Urban Search and Rescue (USR): finding chemical spills, fires, or human survivors in disaster areas. With the ability to include inexpensive wireless transceivers, it is possible to network numerous robots as part of a swarm that can explore an area much more expeditiously than a single robot can. With the inclusion of wireless capabilities comes the necessity to create a protocol for the communication between robots. Also necessary is the creation of an exploration protocol that allows the network of robots to explore such a building or search area in as little time as possible yet as accurately as possible. This thesis covers the development of such a network of robots, starting with the hardware/software co-design, the individual robots' control mechanisms, and their mapping and communications protocols.