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In robotics, homing can be defined as that behavior which enables a robot to return to its initial (home) position, after traveling a certain distance along an arbitrary path. Odometry has traditionally been used for the implementation of such a behavior, but it has been shown to be an unreliable source of information. In this work, a novel method for visual homing is proposed, based on a panoramic camera. As the robot departs from its initial position, it tracks characteristic features of the environment (corners). As soon as homing is activated, the robot selects intermediate target positions on the original path. These intermediate positions (IPs) are then visited sequentially, until the home position is reached. For the robot to move between two consecutive IPs, it is only required to establish correspondence among at least three corners. This correspondence is obtained through a feature tracking mechanism. The proposed homing scheme is based on the extraction of very low-level sensory information, namely the bearing angles of corners, and has been implemented on a robotic platform. Experimental results show that the proposed scheme achieves homing with a remarkable accuracy, which is not affected by the distance traveled by the robot.
Date of Conference: 2001