Planning exploration strategies for simultaneous localization and mapping
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In this paper, we present techniques that allow one or multiple mobile robots to efficiently explore and model their environment. While much existing research in the area of Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) focuses on issues related to uncertainty in sensor data, our work focuses on the problem of planning optimal exploration strategies. We develop a utility function that measures the quality of proposed sensing locations, give a randomized algorithm for selecting an optimal next sensing location, and provide methods for extracting features from sensor data and merging these into an incrementally constructed map. We also provide an efficient algorithm driven by our utility function. This algorithm is able to explore several steps ahead without incurring too high a computational cost. We have compared that exploration strategy with a totally greedy algorithm that optimizes our utility function with a one-step-look ahead. The planning algorithms which have been developed operate using simple but flexible models of the robot sensors and actuator abilities. Techniques that allow implementation of these sensor models on top of the capabilities of actual sensors have been provided. All of the proposed algorithms have been implemented either on real robots (for the case of individual robots) or in simulation (for the case of multiple robots), and experimental results are given. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.