This project will provide robust autonomous stair climbing software capable of being deployed on multiple types of small tracked robots with varying sensor configurations. In particular, the project will field a system that 1) robustly detects and accurately locates stairs and 2) can autonomously navigate up (or down) multiple flights of stairs as commanded by an operator or higher-level control software.
Autonomous stair climbing will enable the operator to explore and map buildings more safely and quickly. Application areas include search and rescue operations in buildings not safe for humans to enter, reconnaissance and mapping, and even automated transport in legacy buildings without elevators.
Stair climbing is a particularly compelling element for robotic autonomy since teleoperating a small tracked vehicle up stairs even under line of sight, high bandwidth, low latency communications is challenging. Previous work has demonstrated that computer aided robotic stair climbing can be more reliable and faster.
This research is funded by the Robotics Technology Consortium.
Michael McHenry - Jet Propulsion Laboratory