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In this paper, we study the feature-based map merging problem in robot networks. While in operation, each robot observes the environment and builds and maintains a local map. Simultaneously, each robot communicates and computes the global map of the environment. Communication between robots is range-limited. We propose a dynamic strategy, based on consensus algorithms, that is fully distributed and does not rely on any particular communication topology. Under mild connectivity conditions on the communication graph, our merging algorithm, asymptotically, converges to the global map. We present a formal analysis of its convergence rate and provide accurate characterizations of the errors as a function of the timestep. The proposed approach has been experimentally validated using real visual information.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2012