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.

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.

Localization is a fundamental challenge for autonomous robotics. Although accurate and efficient techniques now exist for solving this problem, they require explicit probabilistic models of the robot's motion and sensors. These models are usually obtained from time-consuming and error-prone measurement or tedious manual tuning. In this paper we examine automatic calibration of sensor and motion models from a Bayesian perspective. We introduce an efficient MCMC procedure for sampling from the posterior distribution of the model parameters. We also present a novel extension of particle filters to make use of our posterior parameter samples. Finally, we demonstrate our approach both in simulation and on a physical robot. Our results demonstrate effective inference of model parameters as well as a paradoxical result that using posterior parameter samples can produce more accurate position estimates than the true parameters.

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.

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.