Today unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) are applied to an increasing number of real world applications, ranging from the search and disposal of explosive devices across the wide domain of search and rescue (SAR) missions to planetary rovers. Whereas in all these cases robots are mostly tele-operated, recent developments such as driverless cars and robotic vehicles in agriculture rely heavily on autonomous functions and solutions. Hence, today’s UGV applications require many different capabilities for robotic systems: from autonomy, decision-making and sensing to robustness, reliability and the ability to cope with limited communications and power.
Outdoor robotic contests such as the European Land Robot Trial (ELROB) or the euRathlon competition present challenges in which participants compete in real world tasks under realistic conditions and in real environments. Example scenarios include long-distance autonomous navigation, environmental surveys or urban search and rescue (USAR) missions. Therefore, such contests provide an excellent means for assessing all aspects of a robotic solution: robustness and reliability, adequacy for the given task or ease of use.
This special issue seeks novel solutions addressing such – or comparable – topics relevant to the application of UGVs to real world tasks and real world environments. Papers can focus on any particular aspect of robotic systems, from vehicle design to overall system architecture and control, via terrain mapping, localisation, mission planning and execution. Clearly, our emphasis is on systems that fulfil a specific real world task.
All presented developments must be assessed by extensive experimental results. Field tests must have been carried out under realistic and challenging conditions with respect to the terrain type, the scenario to be achieved, and/or the conditions within which the scenarios must be achieved. Additional multimedia contents will also be considered.
Typical problems and challenges which could be addressed include, but are not limited to:
- Autonomous traversal of typical USAR obstacles (e.g. rubble, ramps, stairs)
- Navigation in challenging outdoor environments (e.g. high grass, low twigs, hills, sand, rough surfaces)
- Exploration and mapping in combined indoor/outdoor environments
- Navigation and localisation in (partially) GPS-denied environments
- Innovative HRI for demanding manipulation tasks
- People detection and classification (e.g. pose, clothing, activity)
- Health and life sign detection, victim care
Submission of manuscripts: 31 May, 2015
Notification to authors: 31 July, 2015
Final versions due: 30 September, 2015