Mapping and Exploration for Search and Rescue with Humans and Mobile Robots

Dr. Alexander Kleiner, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

11 Sep 2009, 15:15; Location: S2|02-A102 (Robert-Piloty-Gebäude)

Urban Search And Rescue (USAR) is a time critical task since survivors have to be rescued within the first "golden" 72 hours. One goal in Rescue Robotics is to support emergency response by mixed-initiative teams consisting of humans and robots. Their task is to explore the disaster area rapidly while reporting victim locations and hazardous areas to a central station that plans for rescue missions.

To fulfill this task efficiently, humans and robots have to map disaster areas jointly while coordinating their search at the same time. Basically, they have to solve autonomously in realtime the problem of Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM), consisting of a continuous tracking problem, and a discrete data association problem. However, in disaster areas these problems are extraordinarily challenging.

Following the vision of combined multi-robot and multi-human teamwork, core problems, such as position tracking on rough terrain, mapping by mixed teams, and decentralized team coordination with limited radio communication, are directly addressed by this talk. More specific, I will introduce RFID-SLAM, a method for robust and efficient loop closure in largescale environments that utilizes RFID technology for data association. The method is capable of jointly improving multiple maps from humans and robots in a centralized and decentralized manner without requiring team members to perform loops on their routes. The introduced map representation is further utilized for solving the centralized and decentralized coordination of large rescue teams. On the one hand, a deliberate method for combined task assignment and multi-agent path planning, and on the other hand, a local search method using the memory of RFIDs for coordination, are proposed.

Methods introduced in this talk were extensively evaluated in outdoor environments and official USAR testing arenas designed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Furthermore, some were an integral part of systems that won multiple awards at international competitions, such as the RoboCup world championships.

Category: CE Seminar


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