Drones, vol.7, no.4, 2023 (SCI-Expanded)
This article presents a novel autonomous navigation approach that is capable of increasing map exploration and accuracy while minimizing the distance traveled for autonomous drone landings. For terrain mapping, a probabilistic sparse elevation map is proposed to represent measurement accuracy and enable the increasing of map quality by continuously applying new measurements with Bayes inference. For exploration, the Quality-Aware Best View (QABV) planner is proposed for autonomous navigation with a dual focus: map exploration and quality. Generated paths allow for visiting viewpoints that provide new measurements for exploring the proposed map and increasing its quality. To reduce the distance traveled, we handle the path-cost information in the framework of control theory to dynamically adjust the path cost of visiting a viewpoint. The proposed methods handle the QABV planner as a system to be controlled and regulate the information contribution of the generated paths. As a result, the path cost is increased to reduce the distance traveled or decreased to escape from a low-information area and avoid getting stuck. The usefulness of the proposed mapping and exploration approach is evaluated in detailed simulation studies including a real-world scenario for a packet delivery drone.