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Proceedings Paper

Application of a distributed systems architecture for increased speed in image processing on an autonomous ground vehicle
Author(s): Adam A. Wright; Orko Momin; Young Ho Shin; Rahul Shakya; Kumud Nepal; David J. Ahlgren
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Paper Abstract

This paper presents the application of a distributed systems architecture to an autonomous ground vehicle, Q, that participates in both the autonomous and navigation challenges of the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition. In the autonomous challenge the vehicle is required to follow a course, while avoiding obstacles and staying within the course boundaries, which are marked by white lines. For the navigation challenge, the vehicle is required to reach a set of target destinations, known as way points, with given GPS coordinates and avoid obstacles that it encounters in the process. Previously the vehicle utilized a single laptop to execute all processing activities including image processing, sensor interfacing and data processing, path planning and navigation algorithms and motor control. National Instruments' (NI) LabVIEW served as the programming language for software implementation. As an upgrade to last year's design, a NI compact Reconfigurable Input/Output system (cRIO) was incorporated to the system architecture. The cRIO is NI's solution for rapid prototyping that is equipped with a real time processor, an FPGA and modular input/output. Under the current system, the real time processor handles the path planning and navigation algorithms, the FPGA gathers and processes sensor data. This setup leaves the laptop to focus on running the image processing algorithm. Image processing as previously presented by Nepal et. al. is a multi-step line extraction algorithm and constitutes the largest processor load. This distributed approach results in a faster image processing algorithm which was previously Q's bottleneck. Additionally, the path planning and navigation algorithms are executed more reliably on the real time processor due to the deterministic nature of operation. The implementation of this architecture required exploration of various inter-system communication techniques. Data transfer between the laptop and the real time processor using UDP packets was established as the most reliable protocol after testing various options. Improvement can be made to the system by migrating more algorithms to the hardware based FPGA to further speed up the operations of the vehicle.

Paper Details

Date Published: 18 January 2010
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 7539, Intelligent Robots and Computer Vision XXVII: Algorithms and Techniques, 75390O (18 January 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.840313
Show Author Affiliations
Adam A. Wright, Trinity College (United States)
Orko Momin, Trinity College (United States)
Young Ho Shin, Trinity College (United States)
Rahul Shakya, Trinity College (United States)
Kumud Nepal, Trinity College (United States)
David J. Ahlgren, Trinity College (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7539:
Intelligent Robots and Computer Vision XXVII: Algorithms and Techniques
David P. Casasent; Ernest L. Hall; Juha Röning, Editor(s)

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