Drone Measurements of Wetland Soils & Robotic Manipulation of Ensembles Using Global Forces



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This thesis covers two applications of robotics. The first section explores the use of drones for measuring properties of soil. Technologies in this section were developed to aid coastal scientists and geotechnical engineers in the structural analysis of wetland environ- ments. These include ballistic sensors inspired by free-fall penetrometers that were designed to be deployed and retrieved by drones. They exploit the deceleration experienced upon impacting moist soils to infer on soil resistance. In later developments, these sensors are made to also retrieve soil samples while simultaneously performing soil strength tests. Ex- periments are performed in simulated environments to demonstrate the use of the developed sensors for collecting soil strength parameters, retrieving soil samples, and also to study the effort required for drone retrieval within the context of pull forces. Overcoming some of the challenges associated with retrieval are discussed, and some solutions are presented. The second section examines using global forces to move large numbers of particles at the same time into desired goal positions. This process for manipulation uses the properties of boundary walls to shape the ensemble, including the shape of the walls and friction between the boundary and the particles. Experiments that verify theories on this style of manipulation are presented, along with tools that simplify hardware experiments of this variety.



Free-Fall Penetrometer


Portions of this document appear in: V. M. Baez, A. Shah, S. Akinwande, N. H. Jafari, and A. T. Becker, “Assessment of soil strength using a robotically deployed and retrieved penetrometer,” in 2020 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS). IEEE, 2020, p. tbd; and in: V. M. Baez, S. Poyrekar, M. Ibarra, Y. Haikal, N. H. Jafari, and A. T. Becker, “Wet- land soil strength tester and core sampler using a drone,” in 2021 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). IEEE, 2021, p. tbd.; and in: A. Schmidt, V. M. Baez, A. T. Becker, and S. P. Fekete, “Coordinated particle reloca- tion using finite static friction with boundary walls,” IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 985–992, 2020; and in: R. A. Moan, V. M. Baez, A. T. Becker, and J. M. O’Kane, “Aggregation and localiza- tion of simple robots in curved environments,” in 2020 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2020, pp. 165–171.