Drift-Free Indoor Navigation Using Simultaneous Localization and Mapping of the Ambient Heterogeneous Magnetic Field

by   Jacky C. K. Chow, et al.

In the absence of external reference position information (e.g. GNSS) SLAM has proven to be an effective method for indoor navigation. The positioning drift can be reduced with regular loop-closures and global relaxation as the backend, thus achieving a good balance between exploration and exploitation. Although vision-based systems like laser scanners are typically deployed for SLAM, these sensors are heavy, energy inefficient, and expensive, making them unattractive for wearables or smartphone applications. However, the concept of SLAM can be extended to non-optical systems such as magnetometers. Instead of matching features such as walls and furniture using some variation of the ICP algorithm, the local magnetic field can be matched to provide loop-closure and global trajectory updates in a Gaussian Process (GP) SLAM framework. With a MEMS-based inertial measurement unit providing a continuous trajectory, and the matching of locally distinct magnetic field maps, experimental results in this paper show that a drift-free navigation solution in an indoor environment with millimetre-level accuracy can be achieved. The GP-SLAM approach presented can be formulated as a maximum a posteriori estimation problem and it can naturally perform loop-detection, feature-to-feature distance minimization, global trajectory optimization, and magnetic field map estimation simultaneously. Spatially continuous features (i.e. smooth magnetic field signatures) are used instead of discrete feature correspondences (e.g. point-to-point) as in conventional vision-based SLAM. These position updates from the ambient magnetic field also provide enough information for calibrating the accelerometer and gyroscope bias in-use. The only restriction for this method is the need for magnetic disturbances (which is typically not an issue indoors); however, no assumptions are required for the general motion of the sensor.


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