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ARTER: a walking excavator robot for autonomous and remote operations

Ajish Babu; Leon Cedric Danter; Pierre Willenbrock; Sankaranarayanan Natarajan; Daniel Kuehn; Frank Kirchner
In: at Automatisierungstechnik, Vol. 70, No. 10, Pages 876-887, De Gruyter, 2022.


The Autonomous Rough Terrain Excavator Robot (ARTER) is a retrofitted walking excavator developed for remote and autonomous operations in environments hostile to humans. This work highlights the key developments related to this robot: system design, terrain adaption controller, and high-level process controller. The original walking excavator is retrofitted with sensors, hydraulic valves, computation devices, etc., to automate it. The terrain adaption controller, which adapts the wheels automatically to the underlying uneven terrain, is implemented using deep reinforcement learning. The tasks for the robot are complex and require switching between autonomy and remote operations. Hence, a custom high-level process controller, based on behavior trees, which helps the operator control complex tasks for the robot, is developed. The remote control and autonomous behaviors of the robot are evaluated for realistic scenarios performed in a test environment.