Incorporating spatial info into the symbolic (bag-of-words) info used for loop closure detection

Nishant Kejriwal, Swagat Kumar, Tomohiro Shibata, High performance loop closure detection using bag of word pairs, Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Volume 77, March 2016, Pages 55-65, ISSN 0921-8890, DOI: 10.1016/j.robot.2015.12.003.

In this paper, we look into the problem of loop closure detection in topological mapping. The bag of words (BoW) is a popular approach which is fast and easy to implement, but suffers from perceptual aliasing, primarily due to vector quantization. We propose to overcome this limitation by incorporating the spatial co-occurrence information directly into the dictionary itself. This is done by creating an additional dictionary comprising of word pairs, which are formed by using a spatial neighborhood defined based on the scale size of each point feature. Since the word pairs are defined relative to the spatial location of each point feature, they exhibit a directional attribute which is a new finding made in this paper. The proposed approach, called bag of word pairs (BoWP), uses relative spatial co-occurrence of words to overcome the limitations of the conventional BoW methods. Unlike previous methods that use spatial arrangement only as a verification step, the proposed method incorporates spatial information directly into the detection level and thus, influences all stages of decision making. The proposed BoWP method is implemented in an on-line fashion by incorporating some of the popular concepts such as, K-D tree for storing and searching features, Bayesian probabilistic framework for making decisions on loop closures, incremental creation of dictionary and using RANSAC for confirming loop closure for the top candidate. Unlike previous methods, an incremental version of K-D tree implementation is used which prevents rebuilding of tree for every incoming image, thereby reducing the per image computation time considerably. Through experiments on standard datasets it is shown that the proposed methods provide better recall performance than most of the existing methods. This improvement is achieved without making use any geometric information obtained from range sensors or robot odometry. The computational requirements for the algorithm is comparable to that of BoW methods and is shown to be less than the latest state-of-the-art method in this category.

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