Approximate Reasoning for Safety and Survivability of Planetary Rovers
Howard, Ayanna M.
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Operational safety and health monitoring are critical matters for autonomous planetary rovers operating on remote and challenging terrain. This paper describes rover safety issues and presents an approximate reasoning approach to maintaining vehicle safety in a navigational context. The proposed rover safety module is composed of two distinct behaviors: safe attitude (pitch and roll) management and safe traction management. Fuzzy logic implementations of these behaviors on outdoor terrain is presented. Sensing of vehicle safety coupled with visual neural network-based perception of terrain quality are used to infer safe speeds during rover traversal. In addition, approximate reasoning for self-regulation of internal operating conditions is briefly discussed. The core theoretical foundations of the applied soft computing techniques is presented and supported by descriptions of field tests and laboratory experimental results. For autonomous rovers, the approach provides intrinsic safety cognizance and a capacity for reactive mitigation of navigation risks.