For his MS thesis, Aaron Arsenault designed and developed an autonomous robot to assess the feasibility of autonomous mowing in highway operations. Maintaining roadside vegetation represents large costs to DOTs worldwide, and the physical requirements of the task, as well as its proximity to moving traffic, present significant hazards to the workers. For his autonomous robot platform, Mr. Arsenault implemented a unique sensor fusion approach through the use of GPS, dead reckoning, and an Extended Kalman Filter. Through actual test results from his robot running in an extremely harsh environment (a plowed field with deep and extensive rutting), Mr. Arsenault demonstrated the robot’s potential. Furthermore, he provided methods for the successful implementation of the technology as well as the costs & benefits of its future use.
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