Michael Montemerlo and Sebastian Thrun
This paper addresses the problem of outdoor terrain modeling for the purposes of mobile robot navigation. We propose an approach in which a robot acquires a set of terrain models at differing resolutions. Our approach addresses one of the major shortcomings of Bayesian reasoning when applied to terrain modeling, namely artifacts that arise from the limited spatial resolution of robot perception. Limited spatial resolution causes small obstacles to be detectable only at close range. Hence, a Bayes filter estimating the state of terrain segments must consider the ranges at which that terrain is observed. We develop a multi-resolution approach that maintains multiple navigation maps, and derive rational arguments for the number of layers and their resolutions. We show that our approach yields significantly better results in a practical robot system, capable of acquiring detailed 3-D maps in large-scale outdoor environments.