Google Earth for Robot Planning, Operations and Visualization
We use Google Earth extensively for K10 robot planning and operations. It's a great tool because it's very flexible as a map viewer, allows us to put in lots of different kinds of content (image overlays, points and polygons, etc.) and provides one context for looking at our field site data, robot plans, robot activities, and the data we have collected.
As an example, here are our overall recon traverse goals and objectives on the map, with an ASTER image overlay, at about 15 meters per pixel, which gives the geologists some idea of the mineralogy of the region.
And the same map with a Digital Globe QuickBird image in black and white at 60 cm per pixel. This image does not indicate much about the mineralogy other than the ligher and darker albedos, but it does have a lot more resolution to see details like the edges of mesas and the lava flow, boulders, and rough or smooth areas.
The purple line shows the entire LER traverse route of about 10 km in the West area of Black Point Lava Flow. Along that route we have identified a few high priority recon objectives, indicated by green circles. Those high priority targets lie within three groups: Cluster 1 to the South, Cluster 2 to the West, and Cluster 3 to the North.
We mostly do our robot planning using the high resolution image. We have a planning tool that we use to set up tasks for the robot and place the tasks onto the map. That tool talks back and forth to Google Earth to get location information from the map, and to put placemarks on the map so we can visualize the plan on the map. The planning tool panel shows the timeline for the tasks across the top, and a list of tasks at the bottom.
These plans are sent off to the robot and executed. After the data is collected by the robot, placemarks are dropped into the map showing where we got images, with preview images and links into our image database.
While the robot is operating, we also track the current location and past trajectory in Google Earth. Network links set Google Earth to continuously poll the server and watch for updates to robot location, plan execution status, and new data products.
The image here shows everything integrated together, including our recon objectives, the polygon around Cluster 1, some of the robot plans, and the data that we collected during one day of operations at that site.