Title of Presentation: A Robotic Mobile Sensor Network for Achieving Scientific Measurements in Challenging Environments

Primary (Corresponding) Author: Ayanna Howard / Antidio Viguria

Organization of Primary Author: Georgia Institute of Technology

Co-Authors: S. Williams, A. Viguria

Abstract:  Recently, it has been discovered that the giant ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica have been shrinking at an accelerated rate. While it is believed that these regions hold important information related to global climate change, there is still insufficient data to be able to accurately predict the future behavior of those ice sheets. Satellites have been able to map the ice sheet elevations with increasing accuracy, but data about general weather conditions (i.e. wind speed, barometric pressure, etc.) must be measured at the surface. Although there are fixed weather stations, such as the Greenland Climate Network, scattered throughout these zones of interest, they are limited in quantity and thus only provide sparse coverage of the arctic regions. In order to obtain a denser set of measurements, human expeditions must be sent to these remote and dangerous areas. Alternatively, a group of autonomous robotic rovers could be deployed to these same locations, mitigating the cost, effort, and danger of human presence. For this to be a viable solution though, a method must be developed to allow multiple robotic scientific explorers to navigate these arctic environments. Specific technological achievements that must be addressed for deployment of this surface-based mobile science network include estimating terrain characteristics of the arctic environment, incorporating these characteristics into a robot navigation scheme, and using this scheme to deploy multiple robotic scientific explorers to specific science sites of interest. In this paper, we discuss an infrastructure that addresses these issues in order to enable successful deployment of these robotic scientific explorers.