I am specialized in the development of robotic solutions going from hardware architecture to the establishment of control laws and their integration on real platforms. I am also specialized in mobile robots navigation, Human Machine Interfaces, embedded systems, and heterogeneous multi-robot cooperation. I am currently working on the development of new robotic approaches for precision agriculture.
One of the goals in adopting more sustainable agricultural practices is to reduce green-house-gas emissions from current practices by replacing fossil-fuel-based heavy machinery with lighter, electrical ones. In a not-so-distant scenario where a single farmer owns a fleet of small electrical tractors/robots that can operate in an autonomous/semi-autonomous manner, this will bring along some logistic challenges. It will be highly impractical that the farmer follows each time a given vehicle moves to the charging point to manually charge it. We present in this paper the design and implementation of an autonomous charging station to be used for that purpose. The charging station is a combination of a holonomic mobile platform and a collaborative robotic arm. Vision-based navigation and detection are used in order to plug the power cable from the wall-plug to the vehicle and back to the wall-plug again when the vehicle has recharged its batteries or reached the required level to pursue its tasks in the field. A decision-tree-based scheme is used in order to define the necessary pick, navigate, and plug sequences to fulfill the charging task. Communication between the autonomous charging station and the vehicle is established in order to make the whole process completely autonomous without any manual intervention. We present in this paper the charging station, the docking mechanism, communication scheme, and the deployed algorithms to achieve the autonomous charging process for agricultural electrical vehicles. We also present real experiments performed using the developed platform on an electrical robot-tractor.
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In this paper, we present a novel method for obstacle avoidance designed for a nonholonomic mobile robot. The method relies on light detection and ranging (LiDAR) readings, which are mapped into a polar coordinate system. Obstacles are taken into consideration when they are within a predefined radius from the robot. A central part of the approach is a new Heading Weight Function (HWF), in which the beams within the aperture angle of the LiDAR are virtually weighted in order to generate the best trajectory candidate for the robot. The HWF is designed to find a solution also in the case of a local-minima situation. The function is coupled with the robot’s controller in order to provide both linear and angular velocities. We tested the method both by simulations in a digital environment with a range of different static obstacles, and in a real, experimental environment including static and dynamic obstacles. The results showed that when utilizing the novel HWF, the robot was able to navigate safely toward the target while avoiding all obstacles included in the tests. Our findings thus show that it is possible for a robot to navigate safely in a populated environment using this method, and that sufficient efficiency in navigation may be obtained without basing the method on a global planner. This is particularly promising for navigation challenges occurring in unknown environments where models of the world cannot be obtained.
The key factor for autonomous navigation is efficient perception of the surroundings,while being able to move safely from an initial to a final point. We deal in this paper with a wheeled mobile robot working in a GPS-denied environment typical for a greenhouse. The Hector Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) approach is used in order to estimate the robots’ pose using a LIght Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) sensor. Waypoint following and obstacle avoidance are ensured by means of a new artificial potential field (APF) controller presented in this paper. The combination of the Hector SLAMand the APF controller allows themobile robot to performperiodic tasks that require autonomous navigation between predefined waypoints. It also provides themobile robot with a robustness to changing conditions thatmay occur inside the greenhouse, caused by the dynamic of plant development through the season. In this study, we show that the robot is safe to operate autonomously with a human presence, and that in contrast to classical odometrymethods, no calibration is needed for repositioning the robot over repetitive runs. We include here both hardware and software descriptions, as well as simulation and experimental results.