Data-Driven Learning and Planning for Environmental Sampling [article]

Kai-Chieh Ma, Lantao Liu, Hordur K. Heidarsson, Gaurav S. Sukhatme
2018 arXiv   pre-print
Robots such as autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs) have been used for sensing and monitoring aquatic environments such as oceans and lakes. Environmental sampling is a challenging task because the environmental attributes to be observed can vary both spatially and temporally, and the target environment is usually a large and continuous domain whereas the sampling data is typically sparse and limited. The challenges require that the sampling method must
more » ... informative and efficient enough to catch up with the environmental dynamics. In this paper we present a planning and learning method that enables a sampling robot to perform persistent monitoring tasks by learning and refining a dynamic "data map" that models a spatiotemporal environment attribute such as ocean salinity content. Our environmental sampling framework consists of two components: to maximize the information collected, we propose an informative planning component that efficiently generates sampling waypoints that contain the maximal information; To alleviate the computational bottleneck caused by large-scale data accumulated, we develop a component based on a sparse Gaussian Process whose hyperparameters are learned online by taking advantage of only a subset of data that provides the greatest contribution. We validate our method with both simulations running on real ocean data and field trials with an ASV in a lake environment. Our experiments show that the proposed framework is both accurate in learning the environmental data map and efficient in catching up with the dynamic environmental changes.
arXiv:1702.01848v2 fatcat:obln6ibofbhnvoh3uxdnnns2xe