Pavel Petráček, Vít Krátý presents Autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle system for exploration of large complex indoor environments

On 2021-11-09 11:00:00 at E112, Karlovo náměstí 13, Praha 2
During the seminar, we will describe the autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle
system for exploration of large complex indoor environments that was deployed
in both System and Virtual track of DARPA SubT challenge and was preceding the
solution that achieved second place in the Virtual Track of this competition.
The talk will describe primarily the development of the technical solutions
through the Urban and Cave circuits of the SubT challenge which led to the
final system being deployed at SubT finals this year. Lessons learned and a
description of technical approaches to tackle particular challenges imposed by
harsh subterranean environments will be also discussed.

Related publications:

1)Pavel Petracek, Vit Kratky, Matej Petrlik, Tomas Baca, Radim Kratochvil and
Martin Saska: Large-Scale Exploration of Cave Environments by Unmanned Aerial
Vehicles, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters 6(4):7596-7603, October 2021.

This letter presents a self-contained system for the robust utilization of
aerial robots in the autonomous exploration of cave environments to help human
explorers, first responders, and speleologists. The proposed system is
generally applicable to an arbitrary exploration task within an unknown and
unstructured subterranean environment and interconnects crucial robotic
subsystems to provide full autonomy of the robots. Such subsystems primarily
include mapping, path and trajectory planning, localization, control, and
decision making. Due to the diversity, complexity, and structural uncertainty
of natural cave environments, the proposed system allows for the possible use
of any arbitrary exploration strategy for a single robot, as well as for a
cooperating team. A multi-robot cooperation strategy that maximizes the limited
flight time of each aerial robot is proposed for exploration and search &
rescue scenarios where the homing of all deployed robots back to an initial
location is not required. The entire system is validated in a comprehensive
experimental analysis comprising of hours of flight time in a real-world cave
environment, as well as by hundreds of hours within a state-of-the-art virtual
testbed that was developed for the DARPA Subterranean Challenge robotic
competition. Among others, experimental results include multiple real-world
exploration flights traveling over 470 m on a single battery in a demanding
unknown cave environment.

2) Vít Krátký, Pavel Petráček, Tomáš Báča and Martin Saska: An
autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle system for fast exploration of large complex
indoor environments, Journal of Field Robotics, pages 1-24, May 2021.

This paper introduces an autonomous system employing multirotor unmanned aerial
vehicles for fast 3D exploration and inspection of vast, unknown, dynamic, and
complex environments containing large open spaces as well as narrow passages.
The system exploits the advantage of small-size aerial vehicles capable of
carrying all necessary sensors and computational power while providing full
autonomy and mobility in constrained unknown environments. Particular emphasis
is put on the robustness of the algorithms with respect to challenging
real-world conditions and the real-time performance of all algorithms that
enable fast reactions to changes in the environment and thus also provide
effective use of limited flight time. The system presented here was employed as
a part of a heterogeneous ground and aerial system in the modeled Search &
Rescue scenario in an unfinished nuclear power plant during the Urban Circuit
of the Subterranean Challenge (SubT Challenge) organized by the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency. The main goal of this simulated disastrous
scenario is to autonomously explore and precisely localize specified objects in
a completely unknown environment and to report their position before the end of
the mission. The proposed system was part of the multirobot team that finished
in third place overall and in first place among the self-funded teams. The
proposed unmanned aerial vehicle system outperformed all aerial systems
participating in the SubT Challenge with respect to versatility, and it was
also the self-deployable autonomous aerial system that explored the largest
part of the environment.

The seminar will be of a full length (40 minutes + 20 minutes discussion).
Responsible person: Petr Pošík