Thermal Image Based Navigation System for Skid-Steering Mobile Robots in Sugarcane Crops

Fernandes dos Santos Xaud, Marco, Leite, Antonio C and From, Pal (2019) Thermal Image Based Navigation System for Skid-Steering Mobile Robots in Sugarcane Crops. In: 019 International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 20-24 May 2019, Montreal, Canada.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


This work proposes a new strategy for autonomous navigation of mobile robots in sugarcane plantations based on thermal imaging. Unlike ordinary agricultural fields, sugarcane farms are generally vast and accommodates numerous arrangements of row crop tunnels, which are very tall, dense and hard-to-access. Moreover, sugarcane crops lie in harsh regions, which hinder the logistics for employing staff and heavy machinery for mapping, monitoring, and sampling. One solution for this problem is TIBA (Tankette for Intelligent BioEnergy Agriculture), a low-cost skid-steering mobile robot capable of infiltrating the crop tunnels with several sensing/sampling systems. The project concept is to reduce the product cost for making the deployment of a robot swarm feasible over a larger area. A prototype was built and tested in a bioenergy farm in order to improve the understanding of the environment and bring about the challenges for the next development steps. The major problem is the navigation through the crop tunnels, since most of the developed systems are suitable for open field operations and employ laser scanners and/or GPS/IMU, which in general are expensive technologies. In this context, we propose a low-cost solution based on infrared (IR) thermal imaging. IR cameras are simple and inexpensive devices, which do not pose risks to the user health, unlike laser-based sensors. This idea was highly motivated by the data collected in the field, which have shown a significant temperature difference between the ground and the crop. From the image analysis, it is possible to clearly visualize a distinguishable corridor and, consequently, generate a straight path for the robot to follow by using computationally efficient approaches. A rigorous analysis of the collected thermal data, numerical simulations and preliminary experiments in the real environment were included to illustrate the efficiency and feasibility of the proposed navigation methodology.

Keywords:Agriculture, Robots Kinematics, Navigation, Mobile Robots, Computed Tomography, Image Colour Analysis
Subjects:H Engineering > H671 Robotics
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D400 Agriculture
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D470 Agricultural Technology
Divisions:College of Science > Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology
ID Code:39203
Deposited On:23 Dec 2019 11:46

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