Many small size field robots experience heat dissipation problems due to their compact construction, the sealing of compartments to protect against dirt and moisture, and the lack of space and/or power to support an active cooling system. Overheating may cause early failure of their components or even necessitate a shutdown of the robot mid-mission. In this paper we introduce the concept of temperature aware operations in which a robotic system uses thermal models to predict, and thus avoid, overheating events (by either warning the operator or adjusting its behavior autonomously). In this work we develop a model of a small robot’s thermal dynamics based on gray box system identification techniques. We show that this model can predict system temperatures over a 20 minute horizon with a typical accuracy of a few degrees Celsius, thus demonstrating the feasibility of temperature aware operations.

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