Autonomous Robots

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 401–416 | Cite as

Low-drift and real-time lidar odometry and mapping

  • Ji Zhang
  • Sanjiv Singh


Here we propose a real-time method for low-drift odometry and mapping using range measurements from a 3D laser scanner moving in 6-DOF. The problem is hard because the range measurements are received at different times, and errors in motion estimation (especially without an external reference such as GPS) cause mis-registration of the resulting point cloud. To date, coherent 3D maps have been built by off-line batch methods, often using loop closure to correct for drift over time. Our method achieves both low-drift in motion estimation and low-computational complexity. The key idea that makes this level of performance possible is the division of the complex problem of Simultaneous Localization and Mapping, which seeks to optimize a large number of variables simultaneously, into two algorithms. One algorithm performs odometry at a high-frequency but at low fidelity to estimate velocity of the laser scanner. Although not necessary, if an IMU is available, it can provide a motion prior and mitigate for gross, high-frequency motion. A second algorithm runs at an order of magnitude lower frequency for fine matching and registration of the point cloud. Combination of the two algorithms allows map creation in real-time. Our method has been evaluated by indoor and outdoor experiments as well as the KITTI odometry benchmark. The results indicate that the proposed method can achieve accuracy comparable to the state of the art offline, batch methods.


Ego-motion estimation Mapping Continuous-time Lidar 



The paper is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-1328930. Special thanks are given to D. Huber, S. Scherer, M. Bergerman, M. Kaess, L. Yoder, S. Maeta for their insightful inputs and invaluable help.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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