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Large numbers of collaborating robots are advantageous for solving distributed problems. In order to efficiently solve the task at hand, the robots often need accurate localization. In this work, we address the localization problem by developing a solution that has low computational and sensing requirements, and that is easily deployed on large robot teams composed of cheap robots. We build upon a real-time, particle-filter based localization algorithm that is completely decentralized and scalable, and accommodates realistic robot assumptions including noisy sensors, and asynchronous and lossy communication. In order to further reduce this algorithm’s overall complexity, we propose a low-cost particle clustering method, which is particularly well suited to the collaborative localization problem. Our approach is experimentally validated on a team of ten real robots.
Ultra-wideband (UWB) localization is a recent technology that promises to outperform many indoor localization methods currently available. Yet, non-line-of-sight (NLOS) positioning scenarios can create large biases in the time-difference-of-arrival (TDOA) measurements, and must be addressed with accurate measurement models in order to avoid significant localization errors. In this work, we first develop an efficient, closed-form TDOA error model and analyze its estimation characteristics by calculating the Cramer-Rao lower bound (CRLB). We subsequently detail how an online Expectation Maximization (EM) algorithm is adopted to find an elegant formalism for the maximum likelihood estimate of the model parameters. We perform real experiments on a mobile robot equipped with an UWB emitter, and show that the online estimation algorithm leads to excellent localization performance due to its ability to adapt to the varying NLOS path conditions over time.