Authors: Dubé, Renaud; Cramariuc, Andrei; Dugas, Daniel; Sommer, Hannes; Dymczyk, Marcin; Nieto, Juan; Siegwart, Roland; Cadena, Cesar
Precisely estimating a robot’s pose in a prior, global map is a fundamental capability for mobile robotics, e.g., autonomous driving or exploration in disaster zones. This task, however, remains challenging in unstructured, dynamic environments, where local features are not discriminative enough and global scene descriptors only provide coarse information. We therefore present SegMap: a map representation solution for localization and mapping based on the extraction of segments in 3D point clouds. Working at the level of segments offers increased invariance to view-point and local structural changes, and facilitates real-time processing of large-scale 3D data. SegMap exploits a single compact data-driven descriptor for performing multiple tasks: global localization, 3D dense map reconstruction, and semantic information extraction. The performance of SegMap is evaluated in multiple urban driving and search and rescue experiments. We show that the learned SegMap descriptor has superior segment retrieval capabilities, compared with state-of-the-art handcrafted descriptors. As a consequence, we achieve a higher localization accuracy and a 6% increase in recall over state-of-the-art handcrafted descriptors. These segment-based localizations allow us to reduce the open-loop odometry drift by up to 50%. SegMap is open-source available along with easy to run demonstrations.