Current students


Section: Systems and Control

Major Research topic:
Advanced driving assistance systems and autonomous driving systems for road vehicles and off-highway vehicles

The focus of my PhD research activity is the development of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving systems for road vehicles and off-highway vehicles. Autonomous driving is becoming of crucial importance in several areas of modern society (from personal mobility to goods transportation, to the construction and agricultural fields), with the aim of increasing safety, improving efficiency and precision, and optimizing vehicles usage (for example, with sharing).

In particular, in the first year of my PhD I concentrated on studying and developing such systems for agricultural tractors in vineyards. The reason for this choice is twofold: firstly, off-road autonomous vehicles can be easily tested (and eventually industrialised), unlike road vehicles which pose legal and regulation problems due to the presence on the roads of pedestrians and other vehicles; secondly, the problem of autonomous navigation in agricultural contexts is appealing to industries and researchers due to its potential to increase precision and reduce man’s workload, while it is still very interesting from the research point of view, due to the complex and continuously-changing environment and the high level of precision required.

In recent years the agricultural field has, in fact, witnessed a great drive towards automation, seen as an opportunity to increase productivity while reducing costs. A rising interest is directed to autonomous tractors, and drones which need high positioning accuracy, especially in constrained environments like vineyards and orchards. In these contexts, tool-equipped tractors are used to carry out complex agricultural processes and treatments, like pruning or harvesting. Therefore, automatic positioning of the vehicle becomes relevant, since it would ease the operator’s driving task so that he/she can focus on the ongoing agricultural procedures.

Navigating an agricultural tractor in open field is relatively easily done through localization and navigation systems that use global maps and rely on Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology. Anyway, in vineyards and orchards this technology is not reliable due to signal loss. Moreover, in these scenarios the vehicle localization must be with respect to the vines other than global, and cannot be done through the use of maps because they should be constantly updated due to the continuously-changing environment (both due to seasonality and as a result of man’s activities). For these reasons, autonomous guide of agricultural vehicles in orchards and vineyards is still a challenging research topic.

My research aims at investigating the above-mentioned problem for an agricultural tractor through the use of different technologies, and approaching the problem at different automation levels: from driving assistance systems (such as autonomous steering of the vehicle while it is between crop rows) to fully autonomous driving systems (which allow the vehicle to navigate the vineyard unsupervised, following a desired park-to-park trajectory).