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Semantic Digital Surface Map Towards Collaborative Off-Road Vehicle Autonomy

Proceedings of the Ground Vehicle Systems Engineering and Technology Symposium (GVSETS) - Autonomy Artificial Intelligence Robotics (AAIR), 2020, PDF

Abstract: The fundamental aspect of unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) navigation, especially over off-road environments, are representations of terrain describing geometry, types, and traversability. One of the typical representations of the environment is digital surface models (DSMs) which efficiently encode geometric information. In this research, we propose a collaborative approach for UGV navigation through unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) mapping to create semantic DSMs, by leveraging the UAV wide field of view and nadir perspective for map surveying. Semantic segmentation models for terrain recognition are affected by sensing modality as well as dataset availability. We explored and developed semantic segmentation deep convolutional neural networks (CNN) models to construct semantic DSMs. We further conducted a thorough quantitative and qualitative analysis regarding image modalities (between RGB, RGB+DSM and RG+DSM) and dataset availability effects on the performance of segmentation CNN models.