A comparative analysis of radar and lidar sensing for localization and mapping

Malcolm Mielle, Martin Magnusson, and Achim J. Lilienthal
Örebro University, Sweden

Lidars and cameras are the sensors most commonly used for Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (SLAM). However, they are not effective in certain scenarios, e.g. when fire and smoke are present in the environment. While radars are much less affected by such conditions, radar and lidar have rarely been compared in terms of the achievable SLAM accuracy. We present a principled comparison of the accuracy of a novel radar sensor against that of a Velodyne lidar, for localization and mapping. We evaluate the performance of both sensors by calculating the displacement in position and orientation relative to a ground-truth reference positioning system, over three experiments in an indoor lab environment. We use two different SLAM algorithms and found that the mean displacement in position when using the radar sensor was less than 0.037m, compared to 0.011m for the lidar. We show that while producing slightly less accurate maps than a lidar, the radar can accurately perform SLAM and build a map of the environment, even including details such as corners and small walls.