Active Traversability Learning via Risk-Aware Information Gathering for Planetary Exploration Rovers

Masafumi Endo, Genya Ishigami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Traversability prediction enables safe and efficient autonomous rover operation on deformable planetary surfaces. Revealing spatial distribution from terrain geometry to rover slip behavior is key to assessing prospective traversability, but is hindered by insufficient in situ measurements on hazardous states due to conservative rover traverses. To achieve a more accurate prediction, this letter proposes a framework that actively learns latent traversability by exploring informative terrain under the constraints of stochastic rover slip. With a Gaussian process (GP) modeling the spatial distribution, we devise an iterative two-stage framework that gradually refines the model estimation, combining risk-aware informative path planning and GP updates by taking in situ measurements. The path planning stage employs our designed sampling-based algorithm to generate informative trajectories with fault-tolerant risk inference, while the GP is cautiously updated with traverse data to avoid rover immobilization. Chance constraint formulation is exploited in the framework to infer the stochastic reachability of informative regions. Through GP estimates reducing uncertainty, the algorithm incrementally reaches informative yet hazardous states along feasible trajectories. Simulation studies in rough terrain environments demonstrate that the proposed framework gathers informative traverse data while averting rover stuck situations to estimate the latent traversability model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11855-11862
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Oct 1


  • Field robots
  • motion and path planning
  • probabilistic inference
  • space robotics and automation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Control and Optimization
  • Artificial Intelligence


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