On-line soil property estimation for autonomous excavator vehicles

Choopar Tan, Yahya H. Zweiri, Kaspar Althoefer, Lakmal D. Seneviratne

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This paper presents a novel method for estimating soil properties on-line during excavation tasks such as ground levelling, digging and sheet pilling. The proposed method computes key soil parameters by measuring the forces acting on the excavator bucket whilst being in contact with the soil and minimizing the error between measured forces and estimated forces produced by a real-time capable soil model. Two soil models, the Mohr-Coulomb soil model and the Chen and Liu upper bound soil model, are implemented and researched in the context of this estimation scheme. Parameter optimization is carried out employing the Newton Raphson method. The method is evaluated using experimental data and through comparison with an approach that makes use of graphical intersection for model optimization [1]. The results demonstrate that the proposed Newton Raphson-based method is as accurate as the graphical intersection-based approach, but up to 2000 times faster, and, thus, most suitable for on-line soil parameter estimation in an automated system which provides optimized digging trajectories for a given excavation task.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)121-126
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
StatePublished - 2003
Event2003 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation - Taipei, Taiwan, Province of China
Duration: 14 Sep 200319 Sep 2003


  • Autonomous excavator
  • Newton-Raphson
  • Soil model
  • Soil property estimation


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