Using virtual scans for improved mapping and evaluation

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In this paper we present a system to enhance the performance of feature correspondence based alignment algorithms for laser scan data. We show how this system can be utilized as a new approach for evaluation of mapping algorithms. Assuming a certain a priori knowledge, our system augments the sensor data with hypotheses (‘Virtual Scans’) about ideal models of objects in the robot's environment. These hypotheses are generated by analysis of the current aligned map estimated by an underlying iterative alignment algorithm. The augmented data is used to improve the alignment process. Feedback between data alignment and data analysis confirms, modifies, or discards the Virtual Scans in each iteration. Experiments with a simulated scenario and real world data from a rescue robot scenario show the applicability and advantages of the approach. By replacing the estimated ‘Virtual Scans’ with ground truth maps our system can provide a flexible way for evaluating different mapping algorithms in different settings.

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