Toward Autonomous Multi-floor Exploration: Ascending Stairway Localization and Modeling

Report No. ARL-TR-6381
Authors: Jeffrey A. Delmerico, Jason J. Corso, David Baran, and Philip David
Date/Pages: March 2013; 32 pages
Abstract: Localization and modeling of stairways by mobile robots can enable multi-floor exploration for those platforms capable of stair traversal. No system yet presented is capable of localizing a stairway on a map and estimating its properties, two functions that would enable stairways to be considered as traversable terrain in a path planning algorithm. We propose a system for detecting and modeling an ascending stairway while performing simultaneous localization and mapping. We design a generative model of a stairway as a single object and localize it with respect to the map, as well as estimate the dimensions of its steps. Modeling the stairway as a whole will enable exploration of higher floors of a building by allowing the stairway to be incorporated into path planning by considering it as a portal to new frontiers. Our system consists of two parts: a computationally efficient detector that leverages geometric cues from depth imagery to detect sets of ascending stairs, and a stairway modeler that uses multiple detections to infer the location and parameters of a stairway that is discovered during exploration. We demonstrate the performance of this system when deployed on several mobile platforms.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: March 1, 2013