Evaluating SLAM algorithms for Autonomous Helicopters

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Institutionen för systemteknik


Navigation with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) requires good knowledge of the current position and other states. A UAV navigation system often uses GPS and inertial sensors in a state estimation solution. If the GPS signal is lost or corrupted state estimation must still be possible and this is where simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) provides a solution. SLAM considers the problem of incrementally building a consistent map of a previously unknown environment and simultaneously localize itself within this map, thus a solution does not require position from the GPS receiver.

This thesis presents a visual feature based SLAM solution using a low resolution video camera, a low-cost inertial measurement unit (IMU) and a barometric pressure sensor. State estimation in made with a extended information filter (EIF) where sparseness in the information matrix is enforced with an approximation.

An implementation is evaluated on real flight data and compared to a EKF-SLAM solution. Results show that both solutions provide similar estimates but the EIF is over-confident. The sparse structure is exploited, possibly not fully, making the solution nearly linear in time and storage requirements are linear in the number of features which enables evaluation for a longer period of time.

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