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Title: Experience based navigation : theory, practice and implementation
Author: Churchill, W. S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2744 7179
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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For robotic systems to realise lifelong autonomy they must be able to navigate accurately in changing environments. In this thesis we describe, implement and validate a new approach to the problem of long-term navigation. To begin, we present our stereo visual odometry system which provides highly accurate pose estimation. Our approach combines several techniques found in existing implementations and a recently published image descriptor that simplifies the solution architecture. The performance and versatility of our system is demonstrated through testing on multiple datasets. Equipped with our visual odometry system, we describe a new approach to the problem of lifelong navigation. We learn a model whose complexity varies naturally in accordance with the variation of scene appearance. As the robot repeatedly traverses its workspace, it accumulates distinct visual experiences that, in concert, implicitly represent the scene variation - each experience captures a visual mode. When operating in a previously visited area, we continually try to localise in these previous experiences while simultaneously running the visual odometry. Failure to localise in a sufficient number of prior experiences indicates an insufficient model of the workspace and instigates the laying down of the live image sequence as a new distinct experience. In this way, over time we can capture the typical temporally varying appearance of an environment and the number of experiences required tends to a constant. Although we focus on vision as a primary sensor, the ideas we present here are equally applicable to other sensor modalities. We demonstrate our approach working on a road vehicle operating over a three month period at different times of day, in different weather and lighting conditions.
Supervisor: Newman, Paul Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Information engineering ; Robotics ; Vision ; Navigation