Autonomous Robots have a tremendous potential to assist humans in environmental monitoring tasks. In order to generate meaningful data for humans to analyze, the robots need to collect accurate data and develop reliable representation of the environment. This is achieved by employing scalable and robust navigation and mapping algorithms that facilitate acquiring and understanding data collected from the array of on-board sensors. To this end, this thesis presents navigation and mapping algorithms for autonomous robots that can enable robot navigation in complexenvironments and develop real time semantic map of the environment respectively. The first part of the thesis presents a novel navigation algorithm for an autonomous underwater vehicle that can maintain a fixed distance from the coral terrain while following a human diver. Following a human diver ensures that the robot would visit all important sites in the coral reef while maintaining a constant distance from the terrain reduces heterscedasticity in the measurements. This algorithm was tested on three different synthetic terrains including a real model of a coral reef in Hawaii. The second part of the thesis presents a dense semantic surfel mapping technique based on top of a popular surfel mapping algorithm that can generate meaningful maps in real time. A semantic mask from a depth aligned RGB-D camera was used to assign labels to the surfels which were then probabilistically updated with multiple measurements. The mapping algorithm was tested with simulated data from an RGB-D camera and the results were analyzed.
- Navigation and Dense Semantic Mapping with Autonomous Robots for Environmental Monitoring
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