Robot Mapping: An Introduction

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Abstract

How to reach a designated location? This question defines a basic problem in robotics. The location may be arbitrarily remote and out of sight in general. To specify it to the robot one can use coordinates in a given reference system, or some distinguishable perceptual feature which, when recognized by the robot, defines a termination condition for the navigation task. In general, erratic motion in the environment to reach the goal location, with simple local obstacle detection and avoidance will lead to inefficient trajectories, if not to failure of reaching the target. A real robot in general situations has to determine a path to reach its goal location that should be efficient with respect to distance, time, energy consumption or other specific criteria related to the context in which the motion is achieved (e.g. avoid some dangerous areas, or stay in sight of some features). Thus, an efficient motion requires knowledge about the environment layout, which is generally not available to the robot a priori, and must therefore be acquired through perception. Hence this environment mapping problem appears as one key issue of the navigation problem and a prerequisite for motion planning and execution.