Matching Items (11)
- All Subjects: robotics
- All Subjects: Fault scarps
- All Subjects: Volcanic Tableland
- Genre: Academic theses
- Creators: Das, Jnaneshwar
Despite the rapid adoption of robotics and machine learning in industry, their application to scientific studies remains under-explored. Combining industry-driven advances with scientific exploration provides new perspectives and a greater understanding of the planet and its environmental processes. Focusing on rock detection, mapping, and dynamics analysis, I present technical approaches and scientific results of developing robotics and machine learning technologies for geomorphology and seismic hazard analysis. I demonstrate an interdisciplinary research direction to push the frontiers of both robotics and geosciences, with potential translational contributions to commercial applications for hazard monitoring and prospecting. To understand the effects of rocky fault scarp development on rock trait distributions, I present a data-processing pipeline that utilizes unpiloted aerial vehicles (UAVs) and deep learning to segment densely distributed rocks in several orders of magnitude. Quantification and correlation analysis of rock trait distributions demonstrate a statistical approach for geomorphology studies. Fragile geological features such as precariously balanced rocks (PBRs) provide upper-bound ground motion constraints for hazard analysis. I develop an offboard method and onboard method as complementary to each other for PBR searching and mapping. Using deep learning, the offboard method segments PBRs in point clouds reconstructed from UAV surveys. The onboard method equips a UAV with edge-computing devices and stereo cameras, enabling onboard machine learning for real-time PBR search, detection, and mapping during surveillance. The offboard method provides an efficient solution to find PBR candidates in existing point clouds, which is useful for field reconnaissance. The onboard method emphasizes mapping individual PBRs for their complete visible surface features, such as basal contacts with pedestals–critical geometry to analyze fragility. After PBRs are mapped, I investigate PBR dynamics by building a virtual shake robot (VSR) that simulates ground motions to test PBR overturning. The VSR demonstrates that ground motion directions and niches are important factors determining PBR fragility, which were rarely considered in previous studies. The VSR also enables PBR large-displacement studies by tracking a toppled-PBR trajectory, presenting novel methods of rockfall hazard zoning. I build a real mini shake robot providing a reverse method to validate simulation experiments in the VSR.
Physical and structural tree measurements are applied in forestry, precision agriculture and conservation for various reasons. Since measuring tree properties manually is tedious, measurements from only a small subset of trees present in a forest, agricultural land or survey site are often used. Utilizing robotics to autonomously estimate physical tree dimensions would speed up the measurement or data collection process and allow for a much larger set of trees to be used in studies. In turn, this would allow studies to make more generalizable inferences about areas with trees. To this end, this thesis focuses on developing a system that generates a semantic representation of the topology of a tree in real-time. The first part describes a simulation environment and a real-world sensor suite to develop and test the tree mapping pipeline proposed in this thesis. The second part presents details of the proposed tree mapping pipeline. Stage one of the mapping pipeline utilizes a deep learning network to detect woody and cylindrical portions of a tree like trunks and branches based on popular semantic segmentation networks. Stage two of the pipeline proposes an algorithm to separate the detected portions of a tree into individual trunk and branch segments. The third stage implements an optimization algorithm to represent each segment parametrically as a cylinder. The fourth stage formulates a multi-sensor factor graph to incrementally integrate and optimize the semantic tree map while also fusing two forms of odometry. Finally, results from all the stages of the tree mapping pipeline using simulation and real-world data are presented. With these implementations, this thesis provides an end-to-end system to estimate tree topology through semantic representations for forestry and precision agriculture applications.
This work has improved the quality of the solution to the sparse rewards problemby combining reinforcement learning (RL) with knowledge-rich planning. Classical
methods for coping with sparse rewards during reinforcement learning modify the
reward landscape so as to better guide the learner. In contrast, this work combines
RL with a planner in order to utilize other information about the environment. As
the scope for representing environmental information is limited in RL, this work has
conflated a model-free learning algorithm – temporal difference (TD) learning – with
a Hierarchical Task Network (HTN) planner to accommodate rich environmental
information in the algorithm. In the perpetual sparse rewards problem, rewards
reemerge after being collected within a fixed interval of time, culminating in a lack of a
well-defined goal state as an exit condition to the problem. Incorporating planning in
the learning algorithm not only improves the quality of the solution, but the algorithm
also avoids the ambiguity of incorporating a goal of maximizing profit while using
only a planning algorithm to solve this problem. Upon occasionally using the HTN
planner, this algorithm provides the necessary tweak toward the optimal solution. In
this work, I have demonstrated an on-policy algorithm that has improved the quality
of the solution over vanilla reinforcement learning. The objective of this work has
been to observe the capacity of the synthesized algorithm in finding optimal policies to
maximize rewards, awareness of the environment, and the awareness of the presence
of other agents in the vicinity.
The ability for aerial manipulators to stay aloft while interacting with dynamic environments is critical for successfully in situ data acquisition methods in arboreal environments. One widely used platform utilizes a six degree of freedom manipulator attached to quadcoper or octocopter, to sample a tree leaf by maintaining the system in a hover while the arm pulls the leaf for a sample. Other system are comprised of simpler quadcopter with a fixed mechanical device to physically cut the leaf while the system is manually piloted. Neither of these common methods account or compensate for the variation of inherent dynamics occurring in the arboreal-aerial manipulator interaction effects. This research proposes force and velocity feedback methods to control an aerial manipulation platform while allowing waypoint navigation within the work space to take place. Using these methods requires minimal knowledge of the system and the dynamic parameters. This thesis outlines the Robot Operating System (ROS) based Open Autonomous Air Vehicle (OpenUAV) simulations performed on the purposed three degree of freedom redundant aerial manipulation platform.
A novel underwater, open source, and configurable vehicle that mimics and leverages advances in quad-copter controls and dynamics, called the uDrone, was designed, built and tested. This vehicle was developed to aid coral reef researchers in collecting underwater spectroscopic data for the purpose of monitoring coral reef health. It is designed with an on-board integrated sensor system to support both automated navigation in close proximity to reefs and environmental observation. Additionally, the vehicle can serve as a testbed for future research in the realm of programming for autonomous underwater navigation and data collection, given the open-source simulation and software environment in which it was developed. This thesis presents the motivation for and design components of the new vehicle, a model governing vehicle dynamics, and the results of two proof-of-concept simulation for automated control.
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.
This work describes an approach for distance computation between agents in a
multi-agent swarm. Unlike other approaches, this work relies solely on signal Angleof-
Arrival (AoA) data and local trajectory data. Each agent in the swarm is able
to discretely determine distance and bearing to every other neighbor agent in the
swarm. From this information, I propose a lightweight method for sensor coverage
of an unknown area based on the work of Sameera Poduri. I also show that this
technique performs well with limited calibration distances.
The need for incorporating game engines into robotics tools becomes increasingly crucial as their graphics continue to become more photorealistic. This thesis presents a simulation framework, referred to as OpenUAV, that addresses cloud simulation and photorealism challenges in academic and research goals. In this work, OpenUAV is used to create a simulation of an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) closely following a moving autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) in an underwater coral reef environment. It incorporates the Unity3D game engine and the robotics software Gazebo to take advantage of Unity3D's perception and Gazebo's physics simulation. The software is developed as a containerized solution that is deployable on cloud and on-premise systems.
This method of utilizing Gazebo's physics and Unity3D perception is evaluated for a team of marine vehicles (an AUV and an ASV) in a coral reef environment. A coordinated navigation and localization module is presented that allows the AUV to follow the path of the ASV. A fiducial marker underneath the ASV facilitates pose estimation of the AUV, and the pose estimates are filtered using the known dynamical system model of both vehicles for better localization. This thesis also investigates different fiducial markers and their detection rates in this Unity3D underwater environment. The limitations and capabilities of this Unity3D perception and Gazebo physics approach are examined.
Rock traits (grain size, shape, orientation) are fundamental indicators of geologic processes including geomorphology and active tectonics. Fault zone evolution, fault slip rates, and earthquake timing are informed by examinations of discontinuities in the displacements of the Earth surface at fault scarps. Fault scarps indicate the structure of fault zones fans, relay ramps, and double faults, as well as the surface process response to the deformation and can thus indicate the activity of the fault zone and its potential hazard. “Rocky” fault scarps are unusual because they share characteristics of bedrock and alluvial fault scarps. The Volcanic Tablelands in Bishop, CA offer a natural laboratory with an array of rocky fault scarps. Machine learning mask-Region Convolutional Neural Network segments an orthophoto to identify individual particles along a specific rocky fault scarp. The resulting rock traits for thousands of particles along the scarp are used to develop conceptual models for rocky scarp geomorphology and evolution. In addition to rocky scarp classification, these tools may be useful in many sedimentary and volcanological applications for particle mapping and characterization.
Navigation and mapping in GPS-denied environments, such as coal mines ordilapidated buildings filled with smog or particulate matter, pose a significant challenge
due to the limitations of conventional LiDAR or vision systems. Therefore there
exists a need for a navigation algorithm and mapping strategy which do not use vision
systems but are still able to explore and map the environment. The map can further
be used by first responders and cave explorers to access the environments.
This thesis presents the design of a collision-resilient Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
(UAV), XPLORER that utilizes a novel navigation algorithm for exploration and
simultaneous mapping of the environment. The real-time navigation algorithm uses
the onboard Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) and arm bending angles for contact
estimation and employs an Explore and Exploit strategy. Additionally, the quadrotor
design is discussed, highlighting its improved stability over the previous design.
The generated map of the environment can be utilized by autonomous vehicles to
navigate the environment. The navigation algorithm is validated in multiple real-time
experiments in different scenarios consisting of concave and convex corners and circular
objects. Furthermore, the developed mapping framework can serve as an auxiliary
input for map generation along with conventional LiDAR or vision-based mapping
Both the navigation and mapping algorithms are designed to be modular, making
them compatible with conventional UAVs also. This research contributes to the
development of navigation and mapping techniques for GPS-denied environments,
enabling safer and more efficient exploration of challenging territories.