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Robotics 2015, 4(3), 341-364; doi:10.3390/robotics4030341

Navigation of an Autonomous Tractor for a Row-Type Tree Plantation Using a Laser Range Finder—Development of a Point-to-Go Algorithm

1
Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8572, Japan,
2
Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8572, Japan,
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Huosheng Hu
Received: 30 July 2015 / Revised: 27 August 2015 / Accepted: 31 August 2015 / Published: 7 September 2015

Abstract

It is challenging to develop a control algorithm that uses only one sensor to guide an autonomous vehicle. The objective of this research was to develop a control algorithm with a single sensor for an autonomous agricultural vehicle that could identify landmarks in the row-type plantation environment and navigate a vehicle to a point-to-go target location through the plantation. To enable such a navigation system for the plantation system, a laser range finder (LRF) was used as a single sensor to detect objects and navigate a full-size autonomous agricultural tractor. The LRF was used to control the tractor as it followed a path, and landmarks were detected “on-the-go” in real time. The landmarks were selected based on data for their distances calculated by comparison with the surrounding objects. Once the landmarks were selected, a target point was calculated from the landmarks, and the tractor was navigated toward the target. Navigation experiments were successfully conducted on the selected paths without colliding with the surrounding objects. A real time kinematic global positioning system (RTK GPS) was used to compare the positioning between the autonomous control and manual control. The results of this study showed that this control system could navigate the autonomous tractor to follow the paths, and the vehicle position differed from the manually driven paths by 0.264, 0.370 and 0.542 m for the wide, tight, and U-turn paths, respectively, with directional accuracies of 3.139°, 4.394°, and 5.217°, respectively, which are satisfactory for the autonomous operation of tractors on rubber or palm plantations. Therefore, this laser-based landmark detection and navigation system can be adapted to an autonomous navigation system to reduce the vehicle`s sensor cost and improve the accuracy of the positioning. View Full-Text
Keywords: control algorithm; landmarks; point-to-go; positioning; and navigation paths control algorithm; landmarks; point-to-go; positioning; and navigation paths
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Thanpattranon, P.; Ahamed, T.; Takigawa, T. Navigation of an Autonomous Tractor for a Row-Type Tree Plantation Using a Laser Range Finder—Development of a Point-to-Go Algorithm. Robotics 2015, 4, 341-364.

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