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Robotics 2017, 6(2), 9;

Visual Place Recognition for Autonomous Mobile Robots

Computer Engineering Group, Faculty of Technology, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld D-33615, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Huosheng Hu
Received: 14 March 2017 / Revised: 10 April 2017 / Accepted: 12 April 2017 / Published: 17 April 2017


Place recognition is an essential component of autonomous mobile robot navigation. It is used for loop-closure detection to maintain consistent maps, or to localize the robot along a route, or in kidnapped-robot situations. Camera sensors provide rich visual information for this task. We compare different approaches for visual place recognition: holistic methods (visual compass and warping), signature-based methods (using Fourier coefficients or feature descriptors (able for binary-appearance loop-closure evaluation, ABLE)), and feature-based methods (fast appearance-based mapping, FabMap). As new contributions we investigate whether warping, a successful visual homing method, is suitable for place recognition. In addition, we extend the well-known visual compass to use multiple scale planes, a concept also employed by warping. To achieve tolerance against changing illumination conditions, we examine the NSAD distance measure (normalized sum of absolute differences) on edge-filtered images. To reduce the impact of illumination changes on the distance values, we suggest to compute ratios of image distances to normalize these values to a common range. We test all methods on multiple indoor databases, as well as a small outdoor database, using images with constant or changing illumination conditions. ROC analysis (receiver-operator characteristics) and the metric distance between best-matching image pairs are used as evaluation measures. Most methods perform well under constant illumination conditions, but fail under changing illumination. The visual compass using the NSAD measure on edge-filtered images with multiple scale planes, while being slower than signature methods, performs best in the latter case. View Full-Text
Keywords: visual place recognition; holistic image processing; visual compass; robot localization visual place recognition; holistic image processing; visual compass; robot localization

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Horst, M.; Möller, R. Visual Place Recognition for Autonomous Mobile Robots. Robotics 2017, 6, 9.

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