Broad Area Colloquium For AI-Geometry-Graphics-Robotics-Vision

Trends in Computer Vision for NASA and DoD Mobile Robot Programs

Larry Matthies
Supervisor, Machine Vision and Tracking Sensors Group
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
California Institute of Technology

Wednesday, January 12, 2000
refreshments 4:05PM, talk begins 4:15PM
TCseq201, Lecture Hall B


NASA and DoD are both funding substantial levels of mobile robot research at present. A key hold-up in both domains has been the very limited ability of robots to sense their environment; however, progress in this area is accelerating considerably. I will survey this progress in three programs that we participate in at JPL: (1) planetary rover research, funded by NASA, (2) portable mobile robots for urban reconnaissance, funded by DARPA, and (3) cross-country mobile robots for reconnaissance in mechanized infantry battalions, funded by the U.S. Army. Autonomous obstacle detection and position estimation are core problems in all of these programs. I will discuss the state of the art and open issues for these problems in each of the above programs, including a discussion of roles played by real-time stereo vision algorithms, compact scanning laser range finders, multispectral cameras, night vision, and visual feature tracking. NASA's goal is to return samples from Mars by 2008; autonomous rovers are central to achieving this goal and the above technologies are key enablers of the level of autonomy required. For Earth-based applications in DoD and elsewhere, maturation of these technologies may lead to fieldable mobile robots within 10 to 15 years.

About the Speaker

Dr. Larry Matthies obtained a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1989, then moved to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he is currently a Principal Member of Technical Staff and supervisor of the Machine Vision Group. His research has focused on terrain sensing and obstacle avoidance algorithms for autonomous navigation of robotic vehicles. At JPL, he pioneered the development of real-time algorithms for stereo vision-based obstacle detection and he contributed to the development of the structured light sensor used by the Sojourner Mars rover. His group currently has research projects on computer vision for robotic vehicles sponsored by NASA, DARPA, and the U.S. Army; these projects include work on navigation of Mars rovers, asteroid and comet landers, and Earth-based robotic vehicles for urban and cross-country missions. He is a member of the editorial board of the Autonomous Robots journal and an adjunct member of the Computer Science Department at the University of Southern California.
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Last modified: Fri Jan 7 11:20:35 PST 2000