Range-only (RO) pose estimation involves determining a robot's pose over time by measuring the distance between multiple devices on the robot, known as tags, and devices installed in the environment, known as anchors. The nonconvex nature of the range measurement model results in a cost function with possible local minima. In the absence of a good initialization, commonly used iterative solvers can get stuck in these local minima resulting in poor trajectory estimation accuracy. In this work, we propose convex relaxations to the original nonconvex problem based on semidefinite programs (SDPs). Specifically, we formulate computationally tractable SDP relaxations to obtain accurate initial pose and trajectory estimates for RO trajectory estimation under static and dynamic (i.e., constant-velocity motion) conditions. Through simulation and real experiments, we demonstrate that our proposed initialization strategies estimate the initial state accurately compared to iterative local solvers. Additionally, the proposed relaxations recover global minima under moderate range measurement noise levels.
This document contains a detailed description of the STAR-loc dataset. For a quick starting guide please refer to the associated Github repository (https://github.com/utiasASRL/starloc). The dataset consists of stereo camera data (rectified/raw images and inertial measurement unit measurements) and ultra-wideband (UWB) data (range measurements) collected on a sensor rig in a Vicon motion capture arena. The UWB anchors and visual landmarks (Apriltags) are of known position, so the dataset can be used for both localization and Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM).
We present a framework for model-free batch localization and SLAM. We use lifting functions to map a control-affine system into a high-dimensional space, where both the process model and the measurement model are rendered bilinear. During training, we solve a least-squares problem using groundtruth data to compute the high-dimensional model matrices associated with the lifted system purely from data. At inference time, we solve for the unknown robot trajectory and landmarks through an optimization problem, where constraints are introduced to keep the solution on the manifold of the lifting functions. The problem is efficiently solved using a sequential quadratic program (SQP), where the complexity of an SQP iteration scales linearly with the number of timesteps. Our algorithms, called Reduced Constrained Koopman Linearization Localization (RCKL-Loc) and Reduced Constrained Koopman Linearization SLAM (RCKL-SLAM), are validated experimentally in simulation and on two datasets: one with an indoor mobile robot equipped with a laser rangefinder that measures range to cylindrical landmarks, and one on a golf cart equipped with RFID range sensors. We compare RCKL-Loc and RCKL-SLAM with classic model-based nonlinear batch estimation. While RCKL-Loc and RCKL-SLAM have similar performance compared to their model-based counterparts, they outperform the model-based approaches when the prior model is imperfect, showing the potential benefit of the proposed data-driven technique.
We present novel, tight, convex relaxations for rotation and pose estimation problems that can guarantee global optimality via strong Lagrangian duality. Some such relaxations exist in the literature for specific problem setups that assume the matrix von Mises-Fisher distribution (a.k.a., matrix Langevin distribution or chordal distance) for isotropic rotational uncertainty. However, another common way to represent uncertainty for rotations and poses is to define anisotropic noise in the associated Lie algebra. Starting from a noise model based on the Cayley map, we define our estimation problems, convert them to Quadratically Constrained Quadratic Programs (QCQPs), then relax them to Semidefinite Programs (SDPs), which can be solved using standard interior-point optimization methods. We first show how to carry out basic rotation and pose averaging. We then turn to the more complex problem of trajectory estimation, which involves many pose variables with both individual and inter-pose measurements (or motion priors). Our contribution is to formulate SDP relaxations for all these problems, including the identification of sufficient redundant constraints to make them tight. We hope our results can add to the catalogue of useful estimation problems whose global optimality can be guaranteed.
In recent years, there has been remarkable progress in the development of so-called certifiable perception methods, which leverage semidefinite, convex relaxations to find global optima of perception problems in robotics. However, many of these relaxations rely on simplifying assumptions that facilitate the problem formulation, such as an isotropic measurement noise distribution. In this paper, we explore the tightness of the semidefinite relaxations of matrix-weighted (anisotropic) state-estimation problems and reveal the limitations lurking therein: matrix-weighted factors can cause convex relaxations to lose tightness. In particular, we show that the semidefinite relaxations of localization problems with matrix weights may be tight only for low noise levels. We empirically explore the factors that contribute to this loss of tightness and demonstrate that redundant constraints can be used to regain tightness, albeit at the expense of real-time performance. As a second technical contribution of this paper, we show that the state-of-the-art relaxation of scalar-weighted SLAM cannot be used when matrix weights are considered. We provide an alternate formulation and show that its SDP relaxation is not tight (even for very low noise levels) unless specific redundant constraints are used. We demonstrate the tightness of our formulations on both simulated and real-world data.
In recent years, semidefinite relaxations of common optimization problems in robotics have attracted growing attention due to their ability to provide globally optimal solutions. In many cases, specific handcrafted redundant constraints are added to the relaxation in order to improve its tightness, which is usually a requirement for obtaining or certifying globally optimal solutions. These constraints are formulation-dependent and typically require a lengthy manual process to find. Instead, the present paper suggests an automatic method to find a set of sufficient redundant constraints to obtain tightness, if they exist. We first propose an efficient feasibility check to determine if a given set of variables can lead to a tight formulation. Secondly, we show how to scale the method to problems of bigger size. At no point of the entire process do we have to manually find redundant constraints. We showcase the effectiveness of the approach by providing new insights on two classical robotics problems: range-based localization and stereo-based pose estimation. Finally, we reproduce semidefinite relaxations presented in recent literature and show that our automatic method finds a smaller set of constraints sufficient for tightness than previously considered.
Long-term visual localization is an essential problem in robotics and computer vision, but remains challenging due to the environmental appearance changes caused by lighting and seasons. While many existing works have attempted to solve it by directly learning invariant sparse keypoints and descriptors to match scenes, these approaches still struggle with adverse appearance changes. Recent developments in image transformations such as neural style transfer have emerged as an alternative to address such appearance gaps. In this work, we propose to combine an image transformation network and a feature-learning network to improve long-term localization performance. Given night-to-day image pairs, the image transformation network transforms the night images into day-like conditions prior to feature matching; the feature network learns to detect keypoint locations with their associated descriptor values, which can be passed to a classical pose estimator to compute the relative poses. We conducted various experiments to examine the effectiveness of combining style transfer and feature learning and its training strategy, showing that such a combination greatly improves long-term localization performance.
* IROS 2023. arXiv admin note: substantial text overlap with
For safe and efficient operation, mobile robots need to perceive their environment, and in particular, perform tasks such as obstacle detection, localization, and mapping. Although robots are often equipped with microphones and speakers, the audio modality is rarely used for these tasks. Compared to the localization of sound sources, for which many practical solutions exist, algorithms for active echolocation are less developed and often rely on hardware requirements that are out of reach for small robots. We propose an end-to-end pipeline for sound-based localization and mapping that is targeted at, but not limited to, robots equipped with only simple buzzers and low-end microphones. The method is model-based, runs in real time, and requires no prior calibration or training. We successfully test the algorithm on the e-puck robot with its integrated audio hardware, and on the Crazyflie drone, for which we design a reproducible audio extension deck. We achieve centimeter-level wall localization on both platforms when the robots are static during the measurement process. Even in the more challenging setting of a flying drone, we can successfully localize walls, which we demonstrate in a proof-of-concept multi-wall localization and mapping demo.
* 8 pages, 10 figures, published in IEEE Robotics and Automation
A common approach to localize a mobile robot is by measuring distances to points of known positions, called anchors. Locating a device from distance measurements is typically phrased as a non-convex optimization problem, stemming from the nonlinearity of the measurement model. Non-convex optimization problems may yield suboptimal solutions when local iterative solvers such as Gauss-Newton are employed. In this paper, we design an optimality certificate for continuous-time range-only localization. Our formulation allows for the integration of a motion prior, which ensures smoothness of the solution and is crucial for localizing from only a few distance measurements. The proposed certificate comes at little additional cost since it has the same complexity as the sparse local solver itself: linear in the number of positions. We show, both in simulation and on real-world datasets, that the efficient local solver often finds the globally optimal solution (confirmed by our certificate) and when it does not, simple random reinitialization eventually leads to the certifiable optimum.
Localization of a set of nodes is an important and a thoroughly researched problem in robotics and sensor networks. This paper is concerned with the theory of localization from inner-angle measurements. We focus on the challenging case where no anchor locations are known. Inspired by Euclidean distance matrices, we investigate when a set of inner angles corresponds to a realizable point set. In particular, we find linear and non-linear constraints that are provably necessary, and we conjecture also sufficient for characterizing realizable angle sets. We confirm this in extensive numerical simulations, and we illustrate the use of these constraints for denoising angle measurements along with the reconstruction of a valid point set.
* IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal
Processing (ICASSP 2020)