Autonomous Robots

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 205–229

RoadCompass: following rural roads with vision + ladar using vanishing point tracking


DOI: 10.1007/s10514-008-9091-x

Cite this article as:
Rasmussen, C. Auton Robot (2008) 25: 205. doi:10.1007/s10514-008-9091-x


We present a vision- and ladar-based approach to autonomous driving on rural and desert roads that has been tested extensively in a closed-loop system. The vision component uses Gabor wavelet filters for texture analysis to find ruts and tracks from which the road vanishing point can be inferred via Hough-style voting, yielding a direction estimate for steering control. The ladar component projects detected obstacles along the road direction onto the plane of the front of the vehicle and tracks the 1-D obstacle “gap” presumed due to the road to yield a lateral offset estimate. Several image- and state-based tests to detect failure conditions such as off-road poses (i.e., there is no road to follow) and poor lighting due to sun glare or distracting shadows are also explained. The system’s efficacy is demonstrated with analysis of diverse logged data including from the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, as well as tests with full control of a vehicle over 15 km of difficult roads at up to 37 km/h with no waypoints.


Mobile robots Road-following Computer vision Texture analysis 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of DelawareNewarkUSA

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