A novel approach to steel rivet detection in poorly illuminated steel structural environments

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
2016 14th International Conference on Control, Automation, Robotics and Vision, ICARCV 2016, 2017
Issue Date:
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© 2016 IEEE. It is becoming increasingly achievable for steel bridge structures, which are normally both inaccessible and hazardous for humans, to be inspected and maintained by autonomous robots. Steel bridges have been traditionally constructed by securing plate members together with rivets. However, rivets present a challenge for robots both in terms of cleaning and surface traversal. This paper presents a novel approach to RGB-D image and point cloud analysis that enables rivets to be rapidly and robustly located using low cost, non-contact sensing devices that can be easily affixed to a robot. The approach performs classification based on: (a) high-intensity blobs in color images, (b) the non-linear perturbations in depth images, and (c) surface normal clusters in 3D point clouds. The predicted rivet locations from the three classifiers are combined using a probabilistic occupancy mapping technique. Experiments are conducted in several different lab and real-world steel bridge environments, where there is no external lighting infrastructure, and the sensors are attached to a mobile platform, i.e. a climbing inspection robot. The location of rivets within 2m of the robot can be robustly located within 10mm of their correct location. The state of voxels can be predicted with above 95% accuracy, in approximately 1 second per frame.
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