Active SLAM for a planar robot

Ziqi Lu and Tao Pang

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Structure

FrontEnd

  • A 2D robot with two translational DOFs: \(X_B^W = [x, y]\)

  • Noisy measurements of landmarks’ distance \(d\) and bearing \(b\).

BackEnd

  • Landmark-based SLAM solved with Levenberg-Marquardt.

Active SLAM with horizon \(L\)

Computes robot control \[u^*_{k:k+L-1} = \text{argmin} J_k(u_{k:k+L-1}),\]

where \(J_k(u_{k:k+L-1})\) accounts for

  • control effort \(\sum_{i=1}^L \|u_i\|^2\),
  • robot pose uncertainty (sum of covariance trace),

  • Distance to current goal \(\|X^W_{B_{k + L}} - X^W_{B_{\text{goal}}}\|^2\) + ...

: robot goals.

: landmark ground truths.

: landmark beliefs.

: current robot position (ground truth).

: robot sensing range.

b
d
[(b_i, d_i)]
[X^W_{B_{0:k}}]

Landmark measurements.

:Robot pose beliefs.  \(k\): current time step.

[l^W_j]

:landmark beliefs.

u^*_{k:k+L-1}

Additional details:

  • Robot dynamics: \( X^W_{B_{i+1}} = X^W_{B_{i}} + u_i \).
  • Measurement noises are Gaussian for \(d\) or wrapped Gaussian for \(b\).
I_k

: information matrix of current robot pose and landmark beliefs.

Dependencies

Control effort

Pose uncertainty

Distance to goal

Using existing libraries are nice, but...

  • iSAM/GTSAM minimizes cost functions of the form \(\|r(x)\|^2\). It seems difficult to massage (41) into a nonlinear least square...
  • ROS involves multiple processes communicating with each other though message passing, which makes debugging harder and results non-deterministic. 
  • As a result, we implemented Active SLAM planner using mostly numpy, with pydrake and pytorch for gradient computation.
  • As (41) shares the same Jacobian computation as SLAM Backend, we also implemented SLAM backend as a sanity check.
  • Our frontend is simple enough to be implemented with numpy.

 

 

We need \(u^*_{k:k+L-1} = \text{argmin} J_k(u_{k:k+L-1})\), where

Backend (landmark-based SLAM)

k=0
k=1
k=6

: robot goals.

: landmark ground truths.

: landmark beliefs.

: current robot position (ground truth).

: robot sensing range.

: robot covariance ellipse.

Backend (landmark-based SLAM): Loop closure

k=8
k=9

: robot goals.

: landmark ground truths.

: landmark beliefs.

: current robot position (ground truth).

: robot sensing range.

: robot covariance ellipse.

Oasis: map for Active SLAM

  • The environment is devoid of landmarks except near the origin.
  • Following the given path naively leads to large variance in the robot's belief of its position.

: robot goals.

: landmark ground truths.

: landmark beliefs.

: current robot position (ground truth).

: robot sensing range.

: robot trajectory belief.

: robot trajectory ground truth.

Small \(\alpha\): reaching goal.

Large \(\alpha\): Reducing uncertainty.

Navigating oasis with Active SLAM

When \(\alpha\) is small, the robot mostly follows the goals. 

Small \(\alpha\): reaching goal.

Large \(\alpha\): reducing uncertainty.

time

Navigating oasis with Active SLAM

As alpha grows, the robot is driven away from goals and towards landmarks.

Small \(\alpha\): reaching goal.

Large \(\alpha\): reducing uncertainty.

time

A loop closure is achieved, reducing the variance of the entire trajectory.

Navigating oasis with Active SLAM

The robot reaches its goal with much smaller variance.

Small \(\alpha\): reaching goal.

Large \(\alpha\): reducing uncertainty.

vs.

Without active SLAM.

Computing the gradient of \(J_k(u_{k:k+L-1})\)

Control effort

Pose uncertainty

Distance to goal

  • Optimizing  \(J_k(u_{k:k+L-1})\) is done by gradient descent, therefore we need to compute the gradient quickly.
  • We experimented with three ways to compute the gradient of \(J_k(u_{k:k+L-1})\):
    • Numerical differentiation.
    • Forward-mode automatic differentiation, using Eigen::AutoDiffXd (python bindings provided by pydrake).
    • Reverse-mode automatic differentiation, aka backdrop, using pytorch

Computing \(\nabla_x f(x)\) for \(f(x) : \mathbb{R}^n \rightarrow \mathbb{R}\)

Our objective function \(J_k(u_{k:k+L-1})\) shares the same form as \(f(x)\).

Numerical differentiation

import numpy as np

def calc_derivative_numerical(x, f):
    # derivative of f
    df = np.zeros_like(x)
    n = len(x)
    h = 1e-3

    for i in range(n):
        x_plus = x.copy()
        x_minus = x.copy()
        x_plus[i] += h
        x_minus[i] -= h

        df[i] = (f(x_plus) - f(x_minus)) / 2 / h

    return df
    
import numpy as np
from pydrake.math import AutoDiffXd as AD

def calc_derivative_forward(x, f):
    n = len(x)

    # initialize array of x with scalar type AD.
    x_ad = np.zeros(n, dtype=object)
    for i in range(n):
        dx_i = np.zeros(n)
        dx_i[i] = 1.
        x_ad[i] = AD(x[i], dx_i)


    # evaluate f with x_ad.
    y_ad = f(x_ad)

    return y_ad.derivatives()

Reverse-mode AutoDiff

import torch

def calc_derivative_reverse(x, f):
    # initialize array of x as tensor.
    x_torch = torch.tensor(x, requires_grad=True)

    # evaluate f with x_torch.
    y_torch = f(x_torch)

    # backprop.
    y_torch.backward()

    return x_torch.grad

Forward-mode AutoDiff

x0 = AD(3, [1, 0])

x1 = AD(4, [0, 1])

y = x0 + x1  # AD(7, [1, 1])

value \(\in \mathbb{R}\)

partial derivatives\(\in \mathbb{R}^n\)

Computes \(f(\cdot)\) \(2n\) times.

Computes \(f(\cdot)\) \(n + 1\) times.

Computes \(f(\cdot)\) \(2\) times.

Gradient of \(J_k(u_{k:k+L-1})\): computation time

\(u_{k:k+L-1} \in \mathbb{R}^{20}\) (\(L=10\)), \(k=1\), 9 landmarks.

  • Numerical: 502 ms ± 2.23 ms
  • Forward: 35.4 s ± 598 ms (!)
  • Backward: 423 ms ± 2.61 ms 

Control effort

Pose uncertainty

Distance to goal

  • Computation cost grows with the current time \(k\) and the number of observed landmarks.

Profiling the computation of \(J_k(u_{k:k+L-1})\)'s gradient: Numerical

Control effort

Pose uncertainty

Distance to goal

Most of the time is spent on computing \(f(\cdot)\), as expected.

Profiling the computation of \(J_k(u_{k:k+L-1})\)'s gradient: Forward AutoDiff

Control effort

Pose uncertainty

Distance to goal

  • Most of the time is spent on matrix multiplication...
  • numpy may not have an efficient backend to deal with vectorized operations on AutoDiffXd.

Profiling the computation of \(J_k(u_{k:k+L-1})\)'s gradient: Reverse AutoDiff

Control effort

Pose uncertainty

Distance to goal

Evaluating \(J(u)\) and computing \(\nabla_u J(u)\) takes the same amount of time, as expected.

Computing the gradient of \(J_k(u_{k:k+L-1})\): more complex cases

\(u_{k:k+L-1} \in \mathbb{R}^{20}\) (\(L=10\)), \(k=9\), 28 landmarks.

  • Numerical: 1.86 s ± 3.52 ms
  • Forward: N.A.
  • Backward: 1.42 s ± 3.46 ms

\(u_{k:k+L-1} \in \mathbb{R}^{20}\) (\(L=10\)), \(k=46\), 15 landmarks.

  • Numerical: 1.69 s ± 31.1 ms
  • Forward: N.A.
  • Backward: 754 ms ± 2.35 ms 

Making it faster:

  • Sparsity​
  • GPU

Thanks!

  • Hold right mouse button: pan.
  • Mouse wheel: zoom.

Structure

FrontEnd

  • A 2D robot with two translational DOFs: \(X_B^W = [x, y]\)

  • Noisy measurements of landmarks’ distance \(d\) and bearing \(b\).

BackEnd

  • Landmark-based SLAM solved with Levenberg-Marquardt.

Active SLAM with horizon \(L\)

Computes robot control \[u^*_{k:k+L-1} = \text{argmin} J_k(u_{k:k+L-1}),\]

where \(J_k(u_{k:k+L-1})\) accounts for

  • control effort,
  • robot pose uncertainty,

  • Distance to current goal.

[(b_j, d_j)]
[X^W_{B_{0:k}}]

Landmark measurements.

:Robot pose beliefs.

[l^W_j]

:landmark beliefs.

u^*_{k:k+L-1}

Additional details:

  • Robot dynamics: \( X^W_{B_{i+1}} = X^W_{B_{i}} + u_i \).
  • Measurement noises are Gaussian for \(d\) or wrapped Gaussian for \(b\).
I_k

:landmark beliefs.

: information matrix of current beliefs.

:landmark beliefs.

[X^W_{B_{0:k}}]

Backend (landmark-based SLAM): Loop closure

k=8
k=9

: robot goals.

: landmark ground truths.

: landmark beliefs.

: current robot position (ground truth).

: robot sensing range.

: robot covariance ellipse.

Oasis: map for Active SLAM

: robot trajectory belief.

: robot trajectory ground truth.

(a)

(b)

Navigating oasis with Active SLAM

As alpha grows, the robot is driven away from goals and towards landmarks.

Small \(\alpha\): reaching goal.

Large \(\alpha\): reducing uncertainty.

time

A loop closure is achieved, reducing the variance of the entire trajectory.

\(\alpha = 0\)

\(\alpha=1\).

(a)

(b)

(b)

(c)

16.485 presentation

By Pang

16.485 presentation

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