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TC AgRA – Webinar 38 – Heterogenous Robot Assisted Measurement

Dr. Joshua Peschel received the B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering (2001), M.S. in Biological and Agricultural Engineering (2004), and Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering (2012), from Texas A&M University. He is currently Research Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, with separate appointments in the Carl W. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, Computational Science & Engineering, and the Illinois Informatics Institute, and he directs the Human-Infrastructure Interaction Lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Peschel’s current research interests focus on creating new technologies such as low-cost land, sea, and air robots, and machine vision algorithms, to improve sensing and sense-making for agricultural, natural, and urban systems. He is currently funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, Department of Energy ARPA-E, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


This work presents a methodology for topographic and bathymetric data collection using multiple robot platforms in the data sparse Arkavathy region near Bangalore, in the Indian state of Karnataka. In the late 20th century, Arkavathy River flows began declining; consequently, a dependence on the Cauvery River has occurred while the reasons for the drying of the Arkavathy remain unknown. Understanding this shift is critical for managing local water resources, specifically for quantifying the socio-hydrologic effects of human intervention through the construction of tanks, or reservoirs. Determining the potential volume of water capable of being stored in these tanks can aid investigators to better understand hydrologic parameters such as recharge and streamflow. At present, satellite and LiDAR data are the two methods to collect topographic and bathymetric data for this region, but both options are either too poor of resolution or too costly. Small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) were demonstrated as low-cost and reliable, high-resolution alternatives for surface data gathering at three locations in the Arkavathy basin during a Summer 2015 field campaign: i) Hadonahalli, ii) SM Gollahalli, and iii) Nelamangala. This robot-assisted approach for data gathering will be of interest to investigators in the geophysical sciences, especially those operating with budget constraints in data sparse regions.


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