Autonomous Sample Collection Using Image-Based 3D Reconstructions

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Virginia Tech

Sample collection is a common task for mobile robots and there are a variety of manipulators available to perform this operation. This thesis presents a novel scoop sample collection system design which is able to both collect and contain a sample using the same hardware. To ease the operator burden during sampling the scoop system is paired with new semi-autonomous and fully autonomous collection techniques. These are derived from data provided by colored 3D point clouds produced via image-based 3D reconstructions. A custom robotic mobility platform, the Scoopbot, is introduced to perform completely automated imaging of the sampling area and also to pick up the desired sample. The Scoopbot is wirelessly controlled by a base station computer which runs software to create and analyze the 3D point cloud models. Relevant sample parameters, such as dimensions and volume, are calculated from the reconstruction and reported to the operator. During tests of the system in full (48 images) and fast (6-8 images) modes the Scoopbot was able to identify and retrieve a sample without any human intervention. Finally, a new building crack detection algorithm (CDA) is created to use the 3D point cloud outputs from image sets gathered by a mobile robot. The CDA was shown to successfully identify and color-code several cracks in a full-scale concrete building element.

Building Crack Detection, Autonomous Sample Collection, Image-based 3D Reconstruction, Scoops, Robotics