Category Archives: Mobile Robot Slam

Interesting close-loop detection for robot SLAM that only uses odometry and topology

Rohou, S., Franek, P., Aubry, C., & Jaulin, L. , Proving the existence of loops in robot trajectories, The International Journal of Robotics Research, DOI: 10.1177/0278364918808367.

In this paper we present a reliable method to verify the existence of loops along the uncertain trajectory of a robot, based on proprioceptive measurements only, within a bounded-error context. The loop closure detection is one of the key points in simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) methods, especially in homogeneous environments with difficult scenes recognitions. The proposed approach is generic and could be coupled with conventional SLAM algorithms to reliably reduce their computing burden, thus improving the localization and mapping processes in the most challenging environments such as unexplored underwater extents. To prove that a robot performed a loop whatever the uncertainties in its evolution, we employ the notion of topological degree that originates in the field of differential topology. We show that a verification tool based on the topological degree is an optimal method for proving robot loops. This is demonstrated both on datasets from real missions involving autonomous underwater vehicles and by a mathematical discussion.

SLAM as a sampling problem, with some references to the signal sampling state-of-the-art

Golnoosh Elhami, et. al Sampling at Unknown Locations: Uniqueness and Reconstruction Under Constraints, IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing, Vol 66 no. 22, DOI: 10.1109/TSP.2018.2872019.

Traditional sampling results assume that the sample locations are known. Motivated by simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) and structure from motion (SfM), we investigate sampling at unknown locations. Without further constraints, the problem is often hopeless. For example, we recently showed that, for polynomial and bandlimited signals, it is possible to find two signals, arbitrarily far from each other, that fit the measurements. However, we also showed that this can be overcome by adding constraints to the sample positions. In this paper, we show that these constraints lead to a uniform sampling of a composite of functions. Furthermore, the formulation retains the key aspects of the SLAM and SfM problems, whilst providing uniqueness, in many cases. We demonstrate this by studying two simple examples of constrained sampling at unknown locations. In the first, we consider sampling a periodic bandlimited signal composite with an unknown linear function. We derive the sampling requirements for uniqueness and present an algorithm that recovers both the bandlimited signal and the linear warping. Furthermore, we prove that, when the requirements for uniqueness are not met, the cases of multiple solutions have measure zero. For our second example, we consider polynomials sampled such that the sampling positions are constrained by a rational function. We previously proved that, if a specific sampling requirement is met, uniqueness is achieved. In addition, we present an alternate minimization scheme for solving the resulting non-convex optimization problem. Finally, fully reproducible simulation results are provided to support our theoretical analysis.

Interesting study of the number of optimal points in SLAM, considering it as a non-linear, non-convex optimization problem

Heng Wang, Shoudong Huang, Guanghong Yang, Gamini Dissanayake, Comparison of two different objective functions in 2D point feature SLAM, Automatica,
Volume 97, 2018, Pages 172-181, DOI: 10.1016/j.automatica.2018.08.009.

This paper compares two different objective functions in 2D point feature Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM). It is shown that the objective function can have a significant impact on the convergence of the iterative optimization techniques used in SLAM. When Frobenius norm is adopted for the error term of the orientation part of odometry, the SLAM problem has much better convergence properties, as compared with that using the angle difference as the error term. For one-step case, we have proved that there is one and only one minimum to the SLAM problem, and strong duality always holds. For two-step case, strong duality always holds except when three very special conditions hold simultaneously (which happens with probability zero), thus the global optimal solution to primal SLAM problem can be obtained by solving the corresponding Lagrangian dual problem in most cases. Further, for arbitrary m-step cases, we also show using examples that much better convergence results can be obtained. Simulation examples are given to demonstrate the different convergence properties using two different objective functions.

A novel hybridization of semantic and topological maps applied to mapping and localization in outdoors

Fernando Bernuy, Javier Ruiz-del-Solar, Topological Semantic Mapping and Localization in Urban Road Scenarios, Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, September 2018, Volume 92, Issue 1, pp 19–32, DOI: 10.1007/s10846-017-0744-x.

Autonomous vehicle self-localization must be robust to environment changes, such as dynamic objects, variable illumination, and atmospheric conditions. Topological maps provide a concise representation of the world by only keeping information about relevant places, being robust to environment changes. On the other hand, semantic maps correspond to a high level representation of the environment that includes labels associated with relevant objects and places. Hence, the use of a topological map based on semantic information represents a robust and efficient solution for large-scale outdoor scenes for autonomous vehicles and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). In this work, a novel topological semantic mapping and localization methodology for large-scale outdoor scenarios for autonomous driving and ADAS applications is presented. The methodology uses: (i) a deep neural network for obtaining semantic observations of the environment, (ii) a Topological Semantic Map (TSM) for storing selected semantic observations, and (iii) a topological localization algorithm which uses a Particle Filter for obtaining the vehicle’s pose in the TSM. The proposed methodology was tested on a real driving scenario, where a True Estimate Rate of the vehicle’s pose of 96.9% and a Mean Position Accuracy of 7.7[m] were obtained. These results are much better than the ones obtained by other two methods used for comparative purposes. Experiments also show that the method is able to obtain the pose of the vehicle when its initial pose is unknown.

A nice hybridization of RBPF, high-frequency scan matching and topological maps to perform SLAM, with an also nice state-of-the-art

Aristeidis G. Thallas, Emmanouil G. Tsardoulias, Loukas Petrou, Topological Based Scan Matching – Odometry Posterior Sampling in RBPF Under Kinematic Model Failures, Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, September 2018, Volume 91, Issue 3–4, pp 543–568, DOI: 10.1007/s10846-017-0730-3.

Rao-Blackwellized Particle Filters (RBPF) have been utilized to provide a solution to the SLAM problem. One of the main factors that cause RBPF failure is the potential particle impoverishment. Another popular approach to the SLAM problem are Scan Matching methods, whose good results require environments with lots of information, however fail in the lack thereof. To face these issues, in the current work techniques are presented to combine Rao-Blackwellized particle filters with a scan matching algorithm (CRSM SLAM). The particle filter maintains the correct hypothesis in environments lacking features and CRSM is employed in feature-rich environments while simultaneously reduces the particle filter dispersion. Since CRSM’s good performance is based on its high iteration frequency, a multi-threaded combination is presented which allows CRSM to operate while RBPF updates its particles. Additionally, a novel method utilizing topological information is proposed, in order to reduce the number of particle filter resamplings. Finally, we present methods to address anomalous situations where scan matching can not be performed and the vehicle displays behaviors not modeled by the kinematic model, causing the whole method to collapse. Numerous experiments are conducted to support the aforementioned methods’ advantages.

Loop closure detection by optimization of finite sets of images that correspond to each place

Han, F., Wang, H., Huang, G. et al, Sequence-based sparse optimization methods for long-term loop closure detection in visual SLAM, Autonomous Robots, Volume 42, Issue 7, pp 1323–1335, DOI: 10.1007/s1051.

Loop closure detection is one of the most important module in Simultaneously Localization and Mapping (SLAM) because it enables to find the global topology among different places. A loop closure is detected when the current place is recognized to match the previous visited places. When the SLAM is executed throughout a long-term period, there will be additional challenges for the loop closure detection. The illumination, weather, and vegetation conditions can often change significantly during the life-long SLAM, resulting in the critical strong perceptual aliasing and appearance variation problems in loop closure detection. In order to address this problem, we propose a new Robust Multimodal Sequence-based (ROMS) method for robust loop closure detection in long-term visual SLAM. A sequence of images is used as the representation of places in our ROMS method, where each image in the sequence is encoded by multiple feature modalites so that different places can be recognized discriminatively. We formulate the robust place recognition problem as a convex optimization problem with structured sparsity regularization due to the fact that only a small set of template places can match the query place. In addition, we also develop a new algorithm to solve the formulated optimization problem efficiently, which guarantees to converge to the global optima theoretically. Our ROMS method is evaluated through extensive experiments on three large-scale benchmark datasets, which record scenes ranging from different times of the day, months, and seasons. Experimental results demonstrate that our ROMS method outperforms the existing loop closure detection methods in long-term SLAM, and achieves the state-of-the-art performance.

Interesting study about how to quantify the uncertainty in SLAM and the preservation of its monotonic growth, which is needed to good decision making in active SLAM

M. L. Rodríguez-Arévalo, J. Neira and J. A. Castellanos, On the Importance of Uncertainty Representation in Active SLAM, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 829-834 DOI: 10.1109/TRO.2018.2808902.

The purpose of this work is to highlight the paramount importance of representing and quantifying uncertainty to correctly report the associated confidence of the robot’s location estimate at each time step along its trajectory and therefore decide the correct course of action in an active SLAM mission. We analyze the monotonicity property of different decision-making criteria, both in 2-D and 3-D, with respect to the representation of uncertainty and of the orientation of the robot’s pose. Monotonicity, the property that uncertainty increases as the robot moves, is essential for adequate decision making. We analytically show that, by using differential representations to propagate spatial uncertainties, monotonicity is preserved for all optimality criteria, A-opt, D-opt, and E-opt, and for Shannon’s entropy. We also show that monotonicity does not hold for any criteria in absolute representations using Roll-Pitch-Yaw and Euler angles. Finally, using unit quaternions in absolute representations, the only criteria that preserve monotonicity are D-opt and Shannon’s entropy.

Using short- and long-term memories in SLAM

Labbé, M. & Michaud, F., Long-term online multi-session graph-based SPLAM with memory management, Auton Robot (2018) 42: 1133. DOI: 10.1007/s10514-017-9682-5.

For long-term simultaneous planning, localization and mapping (SPLAM), a robot should be able to continuously update its map according to the dynamic changes of the environment and the new areas explored. With limited onboard computation capabilities, a robot should also be able to limit the size of the map used for online localization and mapping. This paper addresses these challenges using a memory management mechanism, which identifies locations that should remain in a Working Memory (WM) for online processing from locations that should be transferred to a Long-Term Memory (LTM). When revisiting previously mapped areas that are in LTM, the mechanism can retrieve these locations and place them back in WM for online SPLAM. The approach is tested on a robot equipped with a short-range laser rangefinder and a RGB-D camera, patrolling autonomously 10.5 km in an indoor environment over 11 sessions while having encountered 139 people.

Faster long-term SLAM through direct use of Lie groups in filtering

Kruno Lenac, Josip Ćesić, Ivan Marković, and Ivan Petrović, Exactly sparse delayed state filter on Lie groups for long-term pose graph SLAM, The International Journal of Robotics Research Vol 37, Issue 6, pp. 585 – 610 DOI: 10.1177/0278364918767756.

In this paper we propose a simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) back-end solution called the exactly sparse delayed state filter on Lie groups (LG-ESDSF). We derive LG-ESDSF and demonstrate that it retains all the good characteristics of the classic Euclidean ESDSF, the main advantage being the exact sparsity of the information matrix. The key advantage of LG-ESDSF in comparison with the classic ESDSF lies in the ability to respect the state space geometry by negotiating uncertainties and employing filtering equations directly on Lie groups. We also exploit the special structure of the information matrix in order to allow long-term operation while the robot is moving repeatedly through the same environment. To prove the effectiveness of the proposed SLAM solution, we conducted extensive experiments on two different publicly available datasets, namely the KITTI and EuRoC datasets, using two front-ends: one based on the stereo camera and the other on the 3D LIDAR. We compare LG-ESDSF with the general graph optimization framework (g2o) when coupled with the same front-ends. Similarly to g2o the proposed LG-ESDSF is front-end agnostic and the comparison demonstrates that our solution can match the accuracy of g2o, while maintaining faster computation times. Furthermore, the proposed back-end coupled with the stereo camera front-end forms a complete visual SLAM solution dubbed LG-SLAM. Finally, we evaluated LG-SLAM using the online KITTI protocol and at the time of writing it achieved the second best result among the stereo odometry solutions and the best result among the tested SLAM algorithms.

Rao-Blackwellized Particle Filter SLAM with grid maps in which particles do not contain the whole map but only a part

H. Jo, H. M. Cho, S. Jo and E. Kim, Efficient Grid-Based Rao–Blackwellized Particle Filter SLAM With Interparticle Map Sharing, IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 714-724, DOI: 10.1109/TMECH.2018.2795252.

In this paper, we propose a novel and efficient grid-based Rao-Blackwellized particle filter simultaneous localization and mapping (RBPF-SLAM) with interparticle map shaping (IPMS). The proposed method aims at saving the computational memory in the grid-based RBPF-SLAM while maintaining the mapping accuracy. Unlike conventional RBPF-SLAM in which each particle has its own map of the whole environment, each particle has only a small map of the nearby environment called an individual map in the proposed method. Instead, the map of the remaining large environment is shared by the particles. The part shared by the particles is called a base map. If the individual small maps become reliable enough to trust, they are merged with the base map. To determine when and which part of an individual map should be merged with the base map, we propose two map sharing criteria. Finally, the proposed IPMS RBPF-SLAM is applied to the real-world datasets and benchmark datasets. The experimental results show that our method outperforms conventional methods in terms of map accuracy versus memory consumption.