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A*-Based Path Planning for an Unmanned Aerial and Ground Vehicle Team in a Radio Repeating Operation
Krawiec, Bryan Michael
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In the event of a disaster, first responders must rapidly gain situational awareness about the environment in order to plan effective response operations. Unmanned ground vehicles are well suited for this task but often require a strong communication link to a remote ground station to effectively relay information. When considering an obstacle-rich environment, non-line-of-sight conditions and naive navigation strategies can cause substantial degradations in radio link quality. Therefore, this thesis incorporates an unmanned aerial vehicle as a radio repeating node and presents a path planning strategy to cooperatively navigate the vehicle team so that radio link health is maintained. This navigation technique is formulated as an A*-based search and this thesis presents the formulation of this path planner as well as an investigation into strategies that provide computational efficiency to the search process. The path planner uses predictions of radio signal health at different vehicle configurations to effectively navigate the vehicles and simulations have shown that the path planner produces favorable results in comparison to several conceivable naive radio repeating variants. The results also show that the radio repeating path planner has outperformed the naive variants in both simulated environments and in field testing where a Yamaha RMAX unmanned helicopter and a ground vehicle were used as the vehicle team. Since A* is a general search process, this thesis also presents a roadway detection algorithm using A* and edge detection image processing techniques. This algorithm can supplement unmanned vehicle operations and has shown favorable performance for images with well-defined roadways.
- Masters Theses