Using sound to classify vehicle-terrain interactions in outdoor environments

Jacqueline Libby, Anthony J. Stentz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Robots that operate in complex physical environments can improve the accuracy of their perception systems by fusing data from complementary sensing modalities. Furthermore, robots capable of motion can physically interact with these environments, and then leverage the sensory information they receive from these interactions. This paper explores the use of sound data as a new type of sensing modality to classify vehicle-terrain interactions from mobile robots operating outdoors, which can complement more typical non-contact sensors that are used for terrain classification. Acoustic data from microphones was recorded on a mobile robot interacting with different types of terrains and objects in outdoor environments. This data was then labeled and used offline to train a supervised multiclass classifier that can distinguish between these interactions based on acoustic data alone. To the best of the author's knowledge, this is the first time that acoustics has been used to classify a variety of interactions that a vehicle can have with its environment, so part of our contribution is to survey acoustic techniques from other domains and explore their efficacy for this application. The feature extraction methods we implement are derived from this survey, which then serve as inputs to our classifier. The multiclass classifier is then built from Support Vector Machines (SVMs). The results presented show an average of 92% accuracy across all classes, which suggest strong potential for acoustics to enhance perception systems on mobile robots.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2012
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781467314039
StatePublished - 2012
Event2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2012 - Saint Paul, MN, United States
Duration: May 14 2012May 18 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation


Conference2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySaint Paul, MN

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence


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