Data Driven MCMC for Appearance-Based Topological Mapping
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Probabilistic techniques have become the mainstay of robotic mapping, particularly for generating metric maps. In previous work, we have presented a hitherto nonexistent general purpose probabilistic framework for dealing with topological mapping. This involves the creation of Probabilistic Topological Maps (PTMs), a sample-based representation that approximates the posterior distribution over topologies given available sensor measurements. The PTM is inferred using Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) that overcomes the combinatorial nature of the problem. In this paper, we address the problem of integrating appearance measurements into the PTM framework. Specifically, we consider appearance measurements in the form of panoramic images obtained from a camera rig mounted on a robot. We also propose improvements to the efficiency of the MCMC algorithm through the use of an intelligent data-driven proposal distribution. We present experiments that illustrate the robustness and wide applicability of our algorithm.