Autonomous vehicles can achieve accurate localization and real-time road information perception using sensors such as global navigation satellite systems (GNSSs), light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and inertial measurement units (IMUs). With road information, vehicles can navigate autonomously to a given position without traffic accidents. However, most of the research on autonomous vehicles has paid little attention to road profile information, which is a significant reference for vehicles driving on uneven terrain. Most vehicles experience violent vibrations when driving on uneven terrain, which reduce the accuracy and stability of data obtained by LiDAR and IMUs. Vehicles with an active suspension system, on the other hand, can maintain stability on uneven roads, which further guarantees sensor accuracy. In this paper, we propose a novel method for road profile estimation using LiDAR and vehicles with an active suspension system. In the former, 3D laser scanners, IMU, and GPS were used to obtain accurate pose information and real-time cloud data points, which were added to an elevation map. In the latter, the elevation map was further processed by a Kalman filter algorithm to fuse multiple cloud data points at the same cell of the map. The model predictive control (MPC) method is proposed to control the active suspension system to maintain vehicle stability, thus further reducing drifts of LiDAR and IMU data. The proposed method was carried out in outdoor environments, and the experiment results demonstrated its accuracy and effectiveness.
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