Research efforts on the development of autonomous vehicles date back to the 1920s and recent announcements indicate that those cars are close to becoming commercially available. However, the most successful prototypes that are currently being demonstrated rely on an expensive set of sensors. This study investigates the use of an affordable vision system as a planner for the Robocart, an autonomous golf cart prototype developed by the Wireless Innovation Laboratory at WPI. The proposed approach relies on a stereo vision system composed of a pair of Raspberry Pi computers, each one equipped with a Camera Module. They are connected to a server and their clocks are synchronized using the Precision Time Protocol (PTP). The server uses timestamps to obtain a pair of simultaneously captured images. Images are processed to generate a disparity map using stereo matching and points in this map are reprojected to the 3D world as a point cloud. Then, an occupancy grid is built and used as input for an A* graph search that finds a collision-free path for the robot. Due to the non-holonomic constraints of a car-like robot, a Pure Pursuit algorithm is used as the control method to guide the robot along the computed path. The cameras are also used by a Visual Odometry algorithm that tracks points on a sequence of images to estimate the position and orientation of the vehicle. The algorithms were implemented using the C++ language and the open source library OpenCV. Tests in a controlled environment show promising results and the interfaces between the server and the Robocart have been defined, so that the proposed method can be used on the golf cart as soon as the mechanical systems are fully functional.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Electrical & Computer Engineering
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Meira, Guilherme Tebaldi, "Stereo Vision-based Autonomous Vehicle Navigation" (2016). Masters Theses (All Theses, All Years). 344.
visual odometry, pure pursuit, occupancy grid, path planning, vehicle autonomy, computer vision, stereo vision, robocart