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An experimental study on feature-based SLAM for multi-legged robots with RGB-D sensors

Michał R. Nowicki (Institute of Control and Information Engineering, Poznan University of Technology, Poznan, Poland)
Dominik Belter (Institute of Control and Information Engineering, Poznan University of Technology, Poznan, Poland)
Aleksander Kostusiak (Institute of Control and Information Engineering, Poznan University of Technology, Poznan, Poland)
Petr Cížek (Department of Computer Science, Czech Technical University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic)
Jan Faigl (Department of Computer Science, Czech Technical University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic)
Piotr Skrzypczyński (Institute of Control and Information Engineering, Poznan University of Technology, Poznan, Poland)

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 19 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to evaluate four different simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) systems in the context of localization of multi-legged walking robots equipped with compact RGB-D sensors. This paper identifies problems related to in-motion data acquisition in a legged robot and evaluates the particular building blocks and concepts applied in contemporary SLAM systems against these problems. The SLAM systems are evaluated on two independent experimental set-ups, applying a well-established methodology and performance metrics.

Design/methodology/approach

Four feature-based SLAM architectures are evaluated with respect to their suitability for localization of multi-legged walking robots. The evaluation methodology is based on the computation of the absolute trajectory error (ATE) and relative pose error (RPE), which are performance metrics well-established in the robotics community. Four sequences of RGB-D frames acquired in two independent experiments using two different six-legged walking robots are used in the evaluation process.

Findings

The experiments revealed that the predominant problem characteristics of the legged robots as platforms for SLAM are the abrupt and unpredictable sensor motions, as well as oscillations and vibrations, which corrupt the images captured in-motion. The tested adaptive gait allowed the evaluated SLAM systems to reconstruct proper trajectories. The bundle adjustment-based SLAM systems produced best results, thanks to the use of a map, which enables to establish a large number of constraints for the estimated trajectory.

Research limitations/implications

The evaluation was performed using indoor mockups of terrain. Experiments in more natural and challenging environments are envisioned as part of future research.

Practical implications

The lack of accurate self-localization methods is considered as one of the most important limitations of walking robots. Thus, the evaluation of the state-of-the-art SLAM methods on legged platforms may be useful for all researchers working on walking robots’ autonomy and their use in various applications, such as search, security, agriculture and mining.

Originality/value

The main contribution lies in the integration of the state-of-the-art SLAM methods on walking robots and their thorough experimental evaluation using a well-established methodology. Moreover, a SLAM system designed especially for RGB-D sensors and real-world applications is presented in details.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the National Science Centre, Poland, under grant 2013/09/B/ST7/01583. The work of Michał Nowicki was funded by the National Science Centre, Poland, under grant 2015/17/N/ST6/01228. M. Nowicki also received PhD scholarship 2016/20/T/ST7/00396 from the National Science Centre, Poland. The work of Jan Faigl and Petr Cížek was supported by the Czech Science Foundation (GACR) under research project No. 15-09600Y.

Citation

Nowicki, M.R., Belter, D., Kostusiak, A., Cížek, P., Faigl, J. and Skrzypczyński, P. (2017), "An experimental study on feature-based SLAM for multi-legged robots with RGB-D sensors", Industrial Robot, Vol. 44 No. 4, pp. 428-441. https://doi.org/10.1108/IR-11-2016-0340

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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