Exploiting the separable structure of SLAM

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Robotics: Science and Systems, 2015, 11
Issue Date:
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© 2015, MIT Press Journals. All rights reserved. In this paper we point out an overlooked structure of SLAM that distinguishes it from a generic nonlinear least squares problem. The measurement function in most common forms of SLAM is linear with respect to robot and features' positions. Therefore, given an estimate for robot orientation, the conditionally optimal estimate for the rest of state variables can be easily obtained by solving a sparse linear-Gaussian estimation problem. We propose an algorithm to exploit this intrinsic property of SLAM by stripping the problem down to its nonlinear core, while maintaining its natural sparsity. Our algorithm can be used together with any Newton-based iterative solver and is applicable to 2D/3D pose-graph and feature-based problems. Our results suggest that iteratively solving the nonlinear core of SLAM leads to a fast and reliable convergence as compared to the state-of-the-art back-ends.
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