Autonomous Navigation in Inclement Weather based on a Localizing Ground Penetrating Radar

Abstract

Most autonomous driving solutions require some method of localization within their environment. Typically, onboard sensors are used to localize the vehicle precisely in a previously recorded map. However, these solutions are sensitive to ambient lighting conditions such as darkness and inclement weather. Additionally, the maps can become outdated in a rapidly changing environment and require continuous updating. While LiDAR systems don’t require visible light, they are sensitive to weather such as fog or snow, which can interfere with localization. In this paper, we utilize a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to obtain precise vehicle localization. By mapping and localizing using features beneath the ground, we obtain features that are both stable over time, and maintain their appearance during changing ambient weather and lighting conditions. We incorporate this solution into a full-scale autonomous vehicle and evaluate the performance on over 17 km of testing data in a variety of challenging weather conditions. We find that this novel sensing modality is capable of providing precise localization for autonomous navigation without using cameras or LiDAR sensors.

Publication
In IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, accepted
Date