Partner: G. De Cubber

Royal Military Academy of Belgium (BE)

Recent publications
1.Balta H., Będkowski J., Govindaraj S., Majek K., Musialik P., Serrano D., Alexis K., Siegwart R., De Cubber G., Integrated Data Management for a Fleet of Search-and-rescue Robots, Journal of Field Robotics, ISSN: 1556-4959, DOI: 10.1002/rob.21651, Vol.34, No.3, pp.539-582, 2016
Abstract:

Search-and-rescue operations have recently been confronted with the introduction of robotic tools that assist the human search-and-rescue workers in their dangerous but life-saving job of searching for human survivors after major catastrophes. However, the world of search and rescue is highly reliant on strict procedures for the transfer of messages, alarms, data, and command and control over the deployed assets. The introduction of robotic tools into this world causes an important structural change in this procedural toolchain. Moreover, the introduction of search-and-rescue robots acting as data gatherers could potentially lead to an information overload toward the human search-and-rescue workers, if the data acquired by these robotic tools are not managed in an intelligent way. With that in mind, we present in this paper an integrated data combination and data management architecture that is able to accommodate real-time data gathered by a fleet of robotic vehicles on a crisis site, and we present and publish these data in a way that is easy to understand by end-users. In the scope of this paper, a fleet of unmanned ground and aerial search-and-rescue vehicles is considered, developed within the scope of the European ICARUS project. As a first step toward the integrated data-management methodology, the different robotic systems require an interoperable framework in order to pass data from one to another and toward the unified command and control station. As a second step, a data fusion methodology will be presented, combining the data acquired by the different heterogenic robotic systems. The computation needed for this process is done in a novel mobile data center and then (as a third step) published in a software as a service (SaaS) model. The SaaS model helps in providing access to robotic data over ubiquitous Ethernet connections. As a final step, we show how the presented data-management architecture allows for reusing recorded exercises with real robots and rescue teams for training purposes and teaching search-and-rescue personnel how to handle the different robotic tools. The system was validated in two experiments. First, in the controlled environment of a military testing base, a fleet of unmanned ground and aerial vehicles was deployed in an earthquake-response scenario. The data gathered by the different interoperable robotic systems were combined by a novel mobile data center and presented to the end-user public. Second, an unmanned aerial system was deployed on an actual mission with an international relief team to help with the relief operations after major flooding in Bosnia in the spring of 2014. Due to the nature of the event (floods), no ground vehicles were deployed here, but all data acquired by the aerial system (mainly three-dimensional maps) were stored in the ICARUS data center, where they were securely published for authorized personnel all over the world. This mission (which is, to our knowledge, the first recorded deployment of an unmanned aerial system by an official governmental international search-and-rescue team in another country) proved also the concept of the procedural integration of the ICARUS data management system into the existing procedural toolchain of the search and rescue workers, and this in an international context (deployment from Belgium to Bosnia). The feedback received from the search-and-rescue personnel on both validation exercises was highly positive, proving that the ICARUS data management system can efficiently increase the situational awareness of the search-and-rescue personnel.

Affiliations:
Balta H.-Royal Military Academy of Belgium (BE)
Będkowski J.-other affiliation
Govindaraj S.-Space Applications Services NV/SA (BE)
Majek K.-Institute of Mathematical Machines (PL)
Musialik P.-Institute of Mathematical Machines (PL)
Serrano D.-Eurecat Technology Centre (ES)
Alexis K.-ETH Zurich (CH)
Siegwart R.-ETH Zurich (CH)
De Cubber G.-Royal Military Academy of Belgium (BE)
2.Będkowski J., Masłowski A., De Cubber G., Real time 3D localization and mapping for USAR robotic application, Industrial Robot: An International Journal, ISSN: 0143-991X, Vol.39, No.5, pp.464-474, 2012
Abstract:

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate a real time 3D localization and mapping approach for the USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) robotic application, focusing on the performance and the accuracy of the General-purpose computing on graphics processing units (GPGPU)-based iterative closest point (ICP) 3D data registration implemented using modern GPGPU with FERMI architecture. Design/methodology/approach – The authors put all the ICP computation into GPU, and performed the experiments with registration up to 106 data points. The main goal of the research was to provide a method for real-time data registration performed by a mobile robot equipped with commercially available laser measurement system 3D. The main contribution of the paper is a new GPGPU based ICP implementation with regular grid decomposition. It guarantees high accuracy as equivalent CPU based ICP implementation with better performance. Findings – The authors have shown an empirical analysis of the tuning of GPUICP parameters for obtaining much better performance (acceptable level of the variance of the computing time) with minimal lost of accuracy. Loop closing method is added and demonstrates satisfactory results of 3D localization and mapping in urban environments. This work can help in building the USAR mobile robotic applications that process 3D cloud of points in real time. Practical implications – This work can help in developing real time mapping for USAR robotic applications. Originality/value – The paper proposes a new method for nearest neighbor search that guarantees better performance with minimal loss of accuracy. The variance of computational time is much less than SoA.

Keywords:

Robotics, Search and rescue, Mapping, Data handling, Data registration, Point to point, Iterative closest point, General-purpose computing on graphics processing units

Affiliations:
Będkowski J.-other affiliation
Masłowski A.-Warsaw University of Technology (PL)
De Cubber G.-Royal Military Academy of Belgium (BE)
3.Będkowski J., De Cubber G., Masłowski A., 6DSLAM with GPGPU computation, POMIARY - AUTOMATYKA - ROBOTYKA. PAR, ISSN: 1427-9126, Vol.2, pp.275-280, 2012
Abstract:

The main goal was to improve a state of the art 6D SLAM algorithm with a new GPGPU-based implementation of data registration module. Data registration is based on ICP (Iterative Closest Point) algorithm that is fully implemented in the GPU with NVIDIA FERMI architecture. In our research we focus on mobile robot inspection intervention systems applicable in hazardous environments. The goal is to deliver a complete system capable of being used in real life. In this paper we demonstrate our achievements in the field of on line robot localization and mapping. We demonstrated an experiment in real large environment. We compared two strategies of data alingment - simple ICP and ICP using so called meta scan.

Keywords:

6D SLAM, parallel computation

Affiliations:
Będkowski J.-other affiliation
De Cubber G.-Royal Military Academy of Belgium (BE)
Masłowski A.-Warsaw University of Technology (PL)