Inference on networks of mixtures for robust robot mapping

International Journal of Robotics Research, 2013

PDF thumbnail
(PDF, 3.8 MB )


The central challenge in robotic mapping is obtaining reliable data associations (or ``loop closures''): state-of-the-art inference algorithms can fail catastrophically if even one erroneous loop closure is incorporated into the map. Consequently, much work has been done to push error rates closer to zero. However, a long-lived or multi-robot system will still encounter errors, leading to system failure.

We propose a fundamentally different approach: allow richer error models that allow the probability of a failure to be explicitly modeled. In other words, rather than characterizing loop closures as being ``right'' or ``wrong'', we propose characterizing the error of those loop closures in a more expressive manner that can account for their non-Gaussian behavior. Our approach leads to an fully-integrated Bayesian framework for dealing with error-prone data. Unlike earlier multiple-hypothesis approaches, our approach avoids exponential memory complexity and is fast enough for real-time performance.

We show that the proposed method not only allows loop closing errors to be automatically identified, but also that in extreme cases, the ``front-end'' loop-validation systems can be unnecessary. We demonstrate our system both on standard benchmarks and on the real-world datasets that motivated this work.


    AUTHOR     = {Edwin Olson and Pratik Agarwal},
    TITLE      = {Inference on networks of mixtures for robust robot mapping},
    JOURNAL    = {International Journal of Robotics Research},
    VOLUME     = {32},
    NUMBER     = {7},
    YEAR       = {2013},
    MONTH      = {July},
    PAGES      = {826-840},