Navigating autonomous vehicles

May 16, 2013

Robust position tracking in difficult GPS conditions

The RT3003 system was used to guide MuCAR-3, an autonomously driving VW Touareg, during the 4th European Land Robot Trial (ELROB) in 2009.

RT3003 Features

GPS dropout resistant
Up to 2cm Position Accuracy
0.03° Roll/Pitch
0.1° Heading
Dual-Antenna for accurate Heading
100Hz Updates
Low Latency
CAN Output
Wheelspeed/Odometer Input
2 GB Logging

Every year ELROB provides the perfect platform for public and commercial institutions, universities and companies from all over Europe to show their latest advances in autonomous vehicle technology. This year, ELROB took place in a remote forest near Oulu in Finland.

As in previous years, the autonomously driving MuCAR-3 vehicle was among the contestants. MuCAR-3 was developed by the renowned team around Prof. Dr.-Ing. Wünsche, professor for “Autonomous Systems Technology” at the University of the Armed Forces in Munich.

The experienced team equipped MuCAR-3 with a high definition 360 degree laser scanner on the roof of the vehicle, three cameras and a highly accurate RT3003 Inertial and GPS navigation system from OxTS.

The autonomously driving vehicle took part in the “autonomous navigation” task and was the only vehicle to complete the 5.2 km long route through rough terrain and forests in just 43 minutes. MuCAR-3 managed to drive 95% of the route completely autonomous, finding its way through narrow paths, over bridges, past dense tree cover and avoiding pedestrians as well as cyclists.

The RT3003 GPS-aided inertial navigation system provided the self-driving vehicle with highly accurate position and orientation data. Accurate heading, roll and pitch measured by the RT3003 provides the cameras and laser scanners with invaluable orientation information.

The RT3003 system also output continuous and jump-free position measurements even in difficult GPS environments. In these most challenging GPS conditions, particularly in urban environments or near trees where GPS signals can be blocked or reflected, continuous position and orientation data is supplied by the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) inside the RT3003. This was of great importance during this year’s ELROB event as most of the track was leading through dense forest areas. Combined with an odometer input, drift rates are low and the position measurements can keep MuCAR-3 on the right track until GPS signals can be acquired again.

The small and compact RT3000 systems have been used in many autonomous vehicle projects, including the DARPA Grand Challenge, the DARPA Urban Challenge, the military and civilian ELROB contests, as well as autonomous projects by many leading car manufacturers and research institutions.

To find out more about the RT3003 Inertial and GPS navigation systems, please contact us or click here to visit the RT3003 product webpages.

If you would like to read more about the autonomous vehicle MuCAR-3, please visit the website of UniBw München. Photos: Hans-Ludwig Wolf. Images courtesy of UniBw München.