Distributed Real-time Cooperative Localization and Mapping Using an Uncertainty-Aware Expectation Maximization Approach
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We demonstrate distributed, online, and real-time cooperative localization and mapping between multiple robots operating throughout an unknown environment sing indirect measurements. We present a novel Expectation Maximization (EM) based approach to efficiently identify inlier multi-robot loop closures by incorporating robot pose uncertainty, which significantly improves the trajectory accuracy over long-term navigation. An EM and hypothesis based method is used to determine a common reference frame. We detail a 2D laser scan correspondence method to form robust correspondences between laser scans shared amongst robots. The implementation is experimentally validated using teams of aerial vehicles, and analyzed to determine its accuracy, computational efficiency, scalability to many robots, and robustness to varying environments. We demonstrate through multiple experiments that our method can efficiently build maps of large indoor and outdoor environments in a distributed, online, and real-time setting.