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Markov Localisation using Heatmap Regression and Deep Convolutional Odometry

by   Oscar Mendez, et al.

In the context of self-driving vehicles there is strong competition between approaches based on visual localisation and LiDAR. While LiDAR provides important depth information, it is sparse in resolution and expensive. On the other hand, cameras are low-cost and recent developments in deep learning mean they can provide high localisation performance. However, several fundamental problems remain, particularly in the domain of uncertainty, where learning based approaches can be notoriously over-confident. Markov, or grid-based, localisation was an early solution to the localisation problem but fell out of favour due to its computational complexity. Representing the likelihood field as a grid (or volume) means there is a trade off between accuracy and memory size. Furthermore, it is necessary to perform expensive convolutions across the entire likelihood volume. Despite the benefit of simultaneously maintaining a likelihood for all possible locations, grid based approaches were superseded by more efficient particle filters and Monte Carlo Localisation (MCL). However, MCL introduces its own problems e.g. particle deprivation. Recent advances in deep learning hardware allow large likelihood volumes to be stored directly on the GPU, along with the hardware necessary to efficiently perform GPU-bound 3D convolutions and this obviates many of the disadvantages of grid based methods. In this work, we present a novel CNN-based localisation approach that can leverage modern deep learning hardware. By implementing a grid-based Markov localisation approach directly on the GPU, we create a hybrid CNN that can perform image-based localisation and odometry-based likelihood propagation within a single neural network. The resulting approach is capable of outperforming direct pose regression methods as well as state-of-the-art localisation systems.


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