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.

This paper presents a new algorithm for mobile robot localization, called Monte Carlo Localization (MCL). MCL is a version of Markov localization, a family of probabilistic approaches that have recently been applied with great practical success. However, previous approaches were either computationally cumbersome (such as grid-based approaches that represent the state space by high-resolution 3D grids), or had to resort to extremely coarse-grained resolutions. Our approach is computationally efficient while retaining the ability to represent (almost) arbitrary distributions. MCL applies sampling-based methods for approximating probability distributions, in a way that places computation "where needed." The number of samples is adapted online, thereby invoking large sample sets only when necessary. Empirical results illustrate that MCL yields improved accuracy while requiring an order of magnitude less computation when compared to previous approaches. It is also much easier to implement.

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.

Global mobile robot localiz ation is the problem of determining a robot's pose in an environment, using sensor data, when the starting position is unknown. A family of probabilistic algorithms known as Monte Carlo Localization (MCL) is currently among the most popular methods for solving this problem. MCL algorithms represent a robot's belief by a set of weighted samples, which approximate the posterior probability of where the robot is located by using a Bayesian formulation of th e localization problem. This article presents an extension to the MCL algorithm, which addresses its problems when localizing in highly symmetrical environments; a situation where MCL is often unable to correctly track equally probable poses for the robot. The problem arises from the fact that sample sets in MCL often become impoverished, when samples are generated according to their posterior likelihood. Our approach incorporates the idea of clusters of samples and modifies the proposal distribution considering the probability mass of those cluste rs. Experimental results are presented that show that this new extension to the MCL algorithm successfully localizes in symmetric environments where ordinary MCL often fails.

This presentation will introduce the audience to a new, emerging body of research on sequential Monte Carlo techniques in robotics. In recent years, particle filters have solved several hard perceptual robotic problems. Early successes were limited to low-dimensional problems, such as the problem of robot localization in environments with known maps. More recently, researchers have begun exploiting structural properties of robotic domains that have led to successful particle filter applications in spaces with as many as 100,000 dimensions. The presentation will discuss specific tricks necessary to make these techniques work in real - world domains,and also discuss open challenges for researchers IN the UAI community.