Integrating Topological and Metric Maps for Mobile Robot Navigation: A Statistical Approach

Sebastian Thrun, Jens-Steffen Gutmann, Dieter Fox, Wolfram Burgard, Benjamin J. Kuipers

The problem of concurrent mapping and localization has received considerable attention in the mobile robotics community. Existing approaches can largely be grouped into two distinct paradigms: topological and metric. This paper proposes a method that integrates both. It poses the mapping problemas a statistical maximum likelihood problem, and devises an efficient algorithm for search in likelihood space. It presents an novel mapping algorithm that integrates two phases: a topological and a metric mapping phase. The topological mapping phase solves a global position alignment problem between potentially indistinguishable, significant places. The subsequent metric mapping phase produces a fine-grained metric map of the environment in floating-point resolution. The approach is demonstrated empirically to scale up to large, cyclic, and highly ambiguous environments.

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