Estimation of visual maps with a robot network equipped with vision sensors

Sensors (Basel). 2010;10(5):5209-32. doi: 10.3390/s100505209. Epub 2010 May 25.

Abstract

In this paper we present an approach to the Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) problem using a team of autonomous vehicles equipped with vision sensors. The SLAM problem considers the case in which a mobile robot is equipped with a particular sensor, moves along the environment, obtains measurements with its sensors and uses them to construct a model of the space where it evolves. In this paper we focus on the case where several robots, each equipped with its own sensor, are distributed in a network and view the space from different vantage points. In particular, each robot is equipped with a stereo camera that allow the robots to extract visual landmarks and obtain relative measurements to them. We propose an algorithm that uses the measurements obtained by the robots to build a single accurate map of the environment. The map is represented by the three-dimensional position of the visual landmarks. In addition, we consider that each landmark is accompanied by a visual descriptor that encodes its visual appearance. The solution is based on a Rao-Blackwellized particle filter that estimates the paths of the robots and the position of the visual landmarks. The validity of our proposal is demonstrated by means of experiments with a team of real robots in a office-like indoor environment.

Keywords: cooperative robots; sensor fusion; uncertainty estimation; visual SLAM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't