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Humanoid Robot Localization in Complex Indoor Environments

We developed a probabilistic localization method for humanoid robots navigating in arbitrary complex indoor environments using only onboard sensing, which is a challenging task. Inaccurate motion execution of biped robots leads to an uncertain estimate of odometry, and their limited payload constrains perception to observations from lightweight and typically noisy sensors. Additionally, humanoids do not walk on flat ground only and perform a swaying motion while walking, which requires estimating a full 6D torso pose. We apply Monte Carlo localization to globally determine and track a humanoid’s 6D pose in a given 3D world model, which may contain multiple levels and staircases. We present an observation model to integrate range measurements from a laser scanner or a depth camera as well as attitude data and information from the joint encoders. To increase the localization accuracy, e.g., while climbing stairs, we propose a further observation model and additionally use monocular vision data in an improved proposal distribution. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our methods in extensive real-world experiments with a Nao humanoid. As the experiments illustrate, the robot is able to globally localize itself and accurately track its 6D pose while walking and climbing stairs.

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This video below shows our humanoid robot navigating in a complex indoor environment while localizing itself using our technique. We present experiments carried out in the Webots 6 robot simulator as well as using our Nao humanoid equipped with a laser head. This robot was developeed by Aldebaran Robotics in cooperation with our lab.

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