Rough Terrain Autonomous Mobility—Part 1: A Theoretical Analysis of Requirements

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A basic requirement of autonomous vehicles is that of guaranteeing the safety of the vehicle by avoiding hazardous situations. This paper analyses this requirement in general terms of real-time response, throughput, and the resolution and accuracy of sensors and computations. Several nondimensional expressions emerge which characterize requirements in canonical form.

The automatic generation of dense geometric models for autonomously navigating vehicles is a computationally expensive process. Using first principles, it is possible to quantify the relationship between the raw throughput required of the perception system and the maximum safely achievable speed of the vehicle. We derive several useful expressions for the complexity of terrain mapping perception under various assumptions. All of them can be reduced to polynomials in the response distance.

The significant time consumed by geometric perception degrades real-time response characteristics. Using our results, several strategies of active geometric perception arise which are practical for autonomous vehicles and increasingly important at higher speeds.

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