A modular hybrid SLAM for the 3D mapping of large scale environments
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Underground mining environments pose many unique challenges to the task of creating extensive, survey quality 3D maps. The extreme characteristics of such environments require a modular mapping solution which has no dependency on Global Positioning Systems (GPS), physical odometry, a priori information or motion model simplification. These restrictions rule out many existing 3D mapping approaches. This work examines a hybrid approach to mapping, fusing omnidirectional vision and 3D range data to produce an automatically registered, accurate and dense 3D map. A series of discrete 3D laser scans are registered through a combination of vision based bearing-only localization and scan matching with the Iterative Closest Point (ICP) algorithm. Depth information provided by the laser scans is used to correctly scale the bearing-only feature map, which in turn supplies an initial pose estimate for a registration algorithm to build the 3D map and correct localization drift. The resulting extensive maps require no external instrumentation or a priori information. Preliminary testing demonstrated the ability of the hybrid system to produce a highly accurate 3D map of an extensive indoor space.
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