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Abstract

This paper describes a novel approach, called Force Field Simulation, to multi robot mapping that works under the constraints given in autonomous search and rescue robotics. Extremely poor prealignment, lack of landmarks, and minimal overlap between scans are the main challenges. The presented algorithm solves the alignment problem of such laser scans utilizing a gradient descent approach motivated by physics, namely simulation of movement of masses in gravitational fields, but exchanges laws of physics with constraints given by human perception. Experiments on different real world data sets show the successful application of the algorithm. We also provide an experimental comparison with classical ICP implementation and a Lu/Milios-type alignment algorithm. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.