Developing Monocular Visual Odometry and Pose Estimation for Arctic Environments
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Arctic regions present one of the harshest environments on Earth for people or mobile robots, yet many important scientific studies, particularly those involving climate change, require measurements from these areas. For the successful deployment of mobile sensors in the Arctic, a high-quality localization system is required. Although a global positioning system can provide coarse positioning (within several meters), it cannot provide any orientation information. A single-camera-pose-estimation system is presented, based on visual odometry techniques, which is capable of operating in the feature-poor environments of the Arctic. To validate the system, a prototype rover was developed and fielded on a glacier in Alaska. The resulting pose estimates compare favorably to values obtained by hand registering the same video sequence. Although pose errors do accumulate over time, these errors are typical of a standard odometry system but obtained in an environment where standard odometry is not practical.