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Real-time Neural Dense Elevation Mapping for Urban Terrain with Uncertainty Estimations

08/06/2022
by   Bowen Yang, et al.
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
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Having good knowledge of terrain information is essential for improving the performance of various downstream tasks on complex terrains, especially for the locomotion and navigation of legged robots. We present a novel framework for neural urban terrain reconstruction with uncertainty estimations. It generates dense robot-centric elevation maps online from sparse LiDAR observations. We design a novel pre-processing and point features representation approach that ensures high robustness and computational efficiency when integrating multiple point cloud frames. A Bayesian-GAN model then recovers the detailed terrain structures while simultaneously providing the pixel-wise reconstruction uncertainty. We evaluate the proposed pipeline through extensive simulation and real-world experiments. It demonstrates efficient terrain reconstruction with high quality and real-time performance on a mobile platform, which further benefits the downstream tasks of legged robots. (See https://kin-zhang.github.io/ndem/ for more details.)

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