This paper presents a framework for collaborative localization and mapping with multiple Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) in unknown environments. Each MAV estimates its motion individually using an onboard, monocular visual odometry algorithm. The system of MAVs acts as a distributed preprocessor that streams only features of selected keyframes and relative-pose estimates to a centralized ground station. The ground station creates an individual map for each MAV and merges them together whenever it detects overlaps. This allows the MAVs to express their position in a common, global coordinate frame. The key to real-time performance is the design of data-structures and processes that allow multiple threads to concurrently read and modify the same map. The presented framework is tested in both indoor and outdoor environments with up to three MAVs. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work on real-time collaborative monocular SLAM, which has also been applied to MAVs.
- Detailed record: https://infoscience.epfl.ch/record/199731?ln=en