Towards Life-Long Autonomy of Mobile Robots Through Feature-Based Change Detection

Erik Derner1, Clara Gomez2, Alejandra C. Hernandez2, Ramon Barber2, and Robert Babuska3
1Czech Technical University in Prague, Czechia
2Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain
3Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

Autonomous mobile robots are becoming increasingly important in many industrial and domestic environments. Dealing with unforeseen situations is a difficult problem that must be tackled in order to move closer to the ultimate goal of life-long autonomy. In computer vision-based methods employed on mobile robots, such as localization or navigation, one of the major issues is the dynamics of the scenes.  The autonomous operation of the robot may become unreliable if the changes that are common in dynamic environments are not detected and managed.  Moving chairs, opening and closing doors or windows, replacing objects on the desks and other changes make many conventional methods fail. To deal with that, we present a novel method for change detection based on the similarity of local visual features. The core idea of the algorithm is to distinguish important stable regions of the scene from the regions that are changing.  To evaluate the change detection algorithm, we have designed a simple visual localization framework based on feature matching and we have performed a series of real-world localization experiments. The results have shown that the change detection method substantially improves the accuracy of the robot localization, compared to using the baseline localization method without change detection.