Indoor Navigation for Mobile Robots Control and Representations

University dissertation from Stockholm : Numerisk analys och datalogi

Abstract: This thesis deals with various aspects of indoor navigationfor mobile robots. For a system that moves around in ahousehold or office environment,two major problems must betackled. First, an appropriate control scheme has to bedesigned in order to navigate the platform. Second, the form ofrepresentations of the environment must be chosen.Behaviour based approaches have become the dominantmethodologies for designing control schemes for robotnavigation. One of them is the dynamical systems approach,which is based on the mathematical theory of nonlineardynamics. It provides a sound theoretical framework for bothbehaviour design and behaviour coordination. In the workpresented in this thesis, the approach has been used for thefirst time to construct a navigation system for realistic tasksin large-scale real-world environments. In particular, thecoordination scheme was exploited in order to combinecontinuous sensory signals and discrete events for decisionmaking processes. In addition, this coordination frameworkassures a continuous control signal at all times and permitsthe robot to deal with unexpected events.In order to act in the real world, the control system makesuse of representations of the environment. On the one hand,local geometrical representations parameterise the behaviours.On the other hand, context information and a predefined worldmodel enable the coordination scheme to switchbetweensubtasks. These representations constitute symbols, on thebasis of which the system makes decisions. These symbols mustbe anchored in the real world, requiring the capability ofrelating to sensory data. A general framework for theseanchoring processes in hybrid deliberative architectures isproposed. A distinction of anchoring on two different levels ofabstraction reduces the complexity of the problemsignificantly.A topological map was chosen as a world model. Through theadvanced behaviour coordination system and a proper choice ofrepresentations,the complexity of this map can be kept at aminimum. This allows the development of simple algorithms forautomatic map acquisition. When the robot is guided through theenvironment, it creates such a map of the area online. Theresulting map is precise enough for subsequent use innavigation.In addition, initial studies on navigation in human-robotinteraction tasks are presented. These kinds of tasks posedifferent constraints on a robotic system than, for example,delivery missions. It is shown that the methods developed inthis thesis can easily be applied to interactive navigation.Results show a personal robot maintaining formations with agroup of persons during social interaction.Keywords:mobile robots, robot navigation, indoornavigation, behaviour based robotics, hybrid deliberativesystems, dynamical systems approach, topological maps, symbolanchoring, autonomous mapping, human-robot interaction