Summary maps for lifelong visual localization

November 13, 2015 in ETHZ-ASL, Journals, Publications, VW, year 4 by Ulrich Schwesinger

Peter Muehlfellner, Mathias Buerki, Michael Bosse, Wojciech Derendarz, Roland Philippsen and Paul Furgale

Journal of Field Robotics

Robots that use vision for localization need to handle environments which are subject to
seasonal and structural change, and operate under changing lighting and weather conditions.
We present a framework for lifelong localization and mapping designed to provide
robust and metrically accurate online localization in these kinds of changing environments.
Our system iterates between offline map building, map summary, and online localization.
The offline mapping fuses data from multiple visually varied datasets, thus dealing with
changing environments by incorporating new information. Before passing this data to the
online localization system, the map is summarized, selecting only the landmarks that are
deemed useful for localization. This Summary Map enables online localization that is accurate
and robust to the variation of visual information in natural environments while still
being computationally efficient.

We present a number of summary policies for selecting useful features for localization from
the multi-session map and explore the tradeoff between localization performance and computational
complexity. The system is evaluated on 77 recordings, with a total length of 30
kilometers, collected outdoors over sixteen months. These datasets cover all seasons, various
times of day, and changing weather such as sunshine, rain, fog, and snow. We show that it
is possible to build consistent maps that span data collected over an entire year, and cover
day-to-night transitions. Simple statistics computed on landmark observations are enough
to produce a Summary Map that enables robust and accurate localization over a wide range
of seasonal, lighting, and weather conditions.

title={Summary maps for lifelong visual localization},
author={M{\"u}hlfellner, Peter and B{\"u}rki, Mathias and Bosse, Mike and Derendarz, Wojciech and Philippsen, Roland and Furgale, Paul},
journal={Journal of Field Robotics},
publisher={John Wiley \& Sons}