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De Luca, A., Muratore, L., Raghavan, V.S., Antonucci, D. and Tsagarakis, N.G., 2021. Autonomous Obstacle Crossing Strategies for the Hybrid Wheeled-Legged Robot Centauro. Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 8.

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The development of autonomous legged/wheeled robots with the ability to navigate and execute tasks in unstructured environments is a well-known research challenge. In this work we introduce a methodology that permits a hybrid legged/wheeled platform to realize terrain traversing functionalities that are adaptable, extendable and can be autonomously selected and regulated based on the geometry of the perceived ground and associated obstacles. The proposed methodology makes use of a set of terrain traversing primitive behaviors that are used to perform driving, stepping on, down and over and can be adapted, based on the ground and obstacle geometry and dimensions. The terrain geometrical properties are first obtained by a perception module, which makes use of point cloud data coming from the LiDAR sensor to segment the terrain in front of the robot, identifying possible gaps or obstacles on the ground. Using these parameters the selection and adaption of the most appropriate traversing behavior is made in an autonomous manner. Traversing behaviors can be also serialized in a different order to synthesise more complex terrain crossing plans over paths of diverse geometry. Furthermore, the proposed methodology is easily extendable by incorporating additional primitive traversing behaviors into the robot mobility framework and in such a way more complex terrain negotiation capabilities can be eventually realized in an add-on fashion. The pipeline of the above methodology was initially implemented and validated on a Gazebo simulation environment. It was then ported and verified on the CENTAURO robot enabling the robot to successfully negotiate terrains of diverse geometry and size using the terrain traversing primitives.