Autonomous robots for harsh environments: a holistic overview of current solutions and ongoing challenges

Cuebong Wong, Erfu Yang, Xiu-Tian Yan, Dongbing Gu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
127 Downloads (Pure)


This paper presents a holistic overview of robotics and autonomous systems developed for applications in harsh environments where interactions with robots are difficult to model due to reasons such as dynamics, uncertainty, complexity and unpredictability. Robots of different characteristics and designs are required to perform different tasks within these environments. A number of classes of robots emerge as particularly favoured by the research community for solving challenging problems in difficult environments. Key examples of these deployments are studied with an analysis on how high-level autonomy is a key issue that must be addressed. The surveyed work suggests that the lack of observable autonomy in many systems is a consequence of both the complexity of the problem and the lack of proven reliability of autonomous solutions for applications that demand high success rates. This paper provides a broad and general overview of autonomous robots deployed in harsh environments and the commonalities of the challenges and existing solutions across application areas, including oil and gas inspection, space exploration, deep-sea operations and search and rescue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-219
Number of pages7
JournalSystems Science and Control Engineering
Issue number1
Early online date18 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2018


  • robotics
  • adaptive systems
  • intelligent systems
  • autonomous systems
  • harsh environments

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