Date of Award

6-2010

Degree Name

MS in Computer Science

Department

Computer Science

Advisor

Christopher Clark

Abstract

For autonomous navigation, robots and vehicles must have accurate estimates of their current state (i.e. location and orientation) within an inertial coordinate frame. If a map is given a priori, the process of determining this state is known as localization. When operating in the outdoors, localization is often assumed to be a solved problem when GPS measurements are available. However, in urban canyons and other areas where GPS accuracy is decreased, additional techniques with other sensors and filtering are required.

This thesis aims to provide one such technique based on monocular vision. First, the system requires a map be generated, which consists of a set of geo-referenced video images. This map is generated offline before autonomous navigation is required. When an autonomous vehicle is later deployed, it will be equipped with an on-board camera. As the vehicle moves and obtains images, it will be able to compare its current images with images from the pre-generated map. To conduct this comparison, a method known as image correlation, developed at Johns Hopkins University by Rob Thompson, Daniel Gianola and Christopher Eberl, is used. The output from this comparison is used within a particle filter to provide an estimate of vehicle location. Experimentation demonstrates the particle filter's ability to successfully localize the vehicle within a small map that consists of a short section of road. Notably, no initial assumption of vehicle location within this map is required.

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