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Abstract

This article presents a robust approach to navigating at high speed across desert terrain. A central theme of this approach is the combination of simple ideas and components to build a capable and robust system. A pair of robots were developed, which completed a 212 km Grand Challenge desert race in approximately 7 h. A pathcentric navigation system uses a combination of LIDAR and RADAR based perception sensors to traverse trails and avoid obstacles at speeds up to 15 m/s. The onboard navigation system leverages a human-based preplanning system to improve reliability and robustness. The robots have been extensively tested, traversing over 3500 km of desert trails prior to completing the challenge. This article describes the mechanisms, algorithms, and testing methods used to achieve this performance. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.