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Multi-Modal and Inertial Sensor Solution to Navigation-Type Factor Graphs

Dehann Fourie, Ph.D., 2017
John Leonard, Advisor

This thesis presents a sum-product inference algorithm for platform navigation called Multi-modal iSAM (incremental smoothing and mapping). Common Gaussian-only likelihoods are restrictive and require a complex front-end processes to deal with non-Gaussian measurements. Instead, our approach allows the front-end to defer ambiguities with non-Gaussian measurement models. We retain the acyclic Bayes tree (and incremental update strategy) from the predecessor iSAM2 max-product algorithm [Kaess et al., IJRR 2012]. The approach propagates continuous beliefs on the Bayes (Junction) tree, which is an efficient symbolic refactorization of the nonparametric factor graph, and asymptotically approximates the underlying Chapman-Kolmogorov equations. Our method tracks dominant modes in the marginal posteriors of all variables with minimal approximation error, while suppressing almost all low likelihood modes (in a non-permanent manner). Keeping with existing inertial navigation, we present a novel, continuous-time, retroactively calibrating inertial odometry residual function, using preintegration to seamlessly incorporate pure inertial sensor measurements into a factor graph. We centralize around a factor graph (with starved graph databases) to separate elements of the navigation into an ecosystem of processes. Practical examples are included, such as how to infer multi-modal marginal posterior belief estimates for ambiguous loop closures; raw beam-formed acoustic measurements; or conventional parametric likelihoods, and others.