Over the last years, particle filters have been applied with great success to a variety of state estimation problems. We present a statistical approach to increasing the efficiency of particle filters by adapting the size of sample sets on-the-fly. The key idea of the KLD-sampling method is to bound the approximation error introduced by the sample-based representation of the particle filter. The name KLD-sampling is due to the fact that we measure the approximation error by the Kullback-Leibler distance. Our adaptation approach chooses a small number of samples if the density is focused on a small part of the state space, and it chooses a large number of samples if the state uncertainty is high. Both the implementation and computation overhead of this approach are small. Extensive experiments using mobile robot localization as a test application show that our approach yields drastic improvements over particle filters with fixed sample set sizes and over a previously introduced adaptation technique.

In this paper, we consider a hybrid solution to the sensor network position inference problem, which combines a real-time filtering system with information from a more expensive, global inference procedure to improve accuracy and prevent divergence. Many online solutions for this problem make use of simplifying assumptions, such as Gaussian noise models and linear system behaviour and also adopt a filtering strategy which may not use available information optimally. These assumptions allow near real-time inference, while also limiting accuracy and introducing the potential for ill-conditioning and divergence. We consider augmenting a particular realtime estimation method, the extended Kalman filter (EKF), with a more complex, but more highly accurate, inference technique based on Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methodology. Conventional MCMC techniques applied to this problem can entail significant and time consuming computation to achieve convergence. To address this, we propose an intelligent bootstrapping process and the use of parallel, communicative chains of different temperatures, commonly referred to as parallel tempering. The combined approach is shown to provide substantial improvement in a realistic simulated mapping environment and when applied to a complex physical system involving a robotic platform moving in an office environment instrumented with a camera sensor network.

Monte Carlo localization (MCL) is a Bayesian algorithm for mobile robot localization based on particle filters, which has enjoyed great practical success. This paper points out a limitation of MCL which is counterintuitive, namely that better sensors can yield worse results. An analysis of this problem leads to the formulation of a new proposal distribution for the Monte Carlo sampling step. Extensive experimental results with physical robots suggest that the new algorithm is significantly more robust and accurate than plain MCL. Obviously, these results transcend beyond mobile robot localization and apply to a range of particle filter applications.

For mobile robots to be successful, they have to navigate safely in populated and dynamic environments. While recent research has led to a variety of localization methods that can track robots well in static environments, we still lack methods that can robustly localize mobile robots in dynamic environments, in which people block the robot's sensors for extensive periods of time or the position of furniture may change. This paper proposes extensions to Markov localization algorithms enabling them to localize mobile robots even in densely populated environments. Two different filters for determining the "believability" of sensor readings are employed. These filters are designed to detect sensor readings that are corrupted by humans or unexpected changes in the environment. The technique was recently implemented and applied as part of an installation, in which a mobile robot gave interactive tours to visitors of the "Deutsches Museum Bonn." Extensive empirical tests involving datasets recorded during peak traffic hours in the museum demonstrate that this approach is able to accurately estimate the robot's position in more than 98% of the cases even in such highly dynamic environments.

Su, Xuan, Lee, Wee Sun, Zhang, Zhen

We propose a new sampling-based approach for approximate inference in filtering problems. Instead of approximating conditional distributions with a finite set of states, as done in particle filters, our approach approximates the distribution with a weighted sum of functions from a set of continuous functions. Central to the approach is the use of sampling to approximate multiplications in the Bayes filter. We provide theoretical analysis, giving conditions for sampling to give good approximation. We next specialize to the case of weighted sums of Gaussians, and show how properties of Gaussians enable closed-form transition and efficient multiplication. Lastly, we conduct preliminary experiments on a robot localization problem and compare performance with the particle filter, to demonstrate the potential of the proposed method.