SLAM using an Imaging Sonar for Partially Structured Underwater Environments

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In this paper we describe a system for underwater navigation with AUVs in partially structured environments, such as dams, ports or marine platforms. An imaging sonar is used to obtain information about the location of planar structures present in such environments. This information is incorporated into a feature-based SLAM algorithm in a two step process: (I) the full 360deg sonar scan is undistorted (to compensate for vehicle motion), thresholded and segmented to determine which measurements correspond to planar environment features and which should be ignored; and (2) SLAM proceeds once the data association is obtained: both the vehicle motion and the measurements whose correct association has been previously determined are incorporated in the SLAM algorithm. This two step delayed SLAM process allows to robustly determine the feature and vehicle locations in the presence of large amounts of spurious or unrelated measurements that might correspond to boats, rocks, etc. Preliminary experiments show the viability of the proposed approach ​
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