Spatio-temporal maps for mobile robots: taking into account time into the map

João Machado Santos, Tomáš Krajník, Tom Duckett, Spatio-temporal exploration strategies for long-term autonomy of mobile robots, Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Volume 88, February 2017, Pages 116-126, ISSN 0921-8890, DOI: 10.1016/j.robot.2016.11.016.

We present a study of spatio-temporal environment representations and exploration strategies for long-term deployment of mobile robots in real-world, dynamic environments. We propose a new concept for life-long mobile robot spatio-temporal exploration that aims at building, updating and maintaining the environment model during the long-term deployment. The addition of the temporal dimension to the explored space makes the exploration task a never-ending data-gathering process, which we address by application of information-theoretic exploration techniques to world representations that model the uncertainty of environment states as probabilistic functions of time. We evaluate the performance of different exploration strategies and temporal models on real-world data gathered over the course of several months. The combination of dynamic environment representations with information-gain exploration principles allows to create and maintain up-to-date models of continuously changing environments, enabling efficient and self-improving long-term operation of mobile robots.

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