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Sequential Track Fusion in UKF-based Multi-Sensor Networks: A Case of Slip Estimation in Wheeled Mobile Robots
  • Mahboubeh Zarei ,
  • Robin Chhabra ,
  • Mohammadreza Mottaghi
Mahboubeh Zarei
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Robin Chhabra
Carleton University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Mohammadreza Mottaghi
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Accurate wheel slip estimation facilitates Wheeled Mobile Robots (WMRs) with improved localization and traversability monitoring which are crucial to their autonomy in challenging environments. Although distributed track-level fusion offers better computational efficiency, often sensor-level fusion is adopted in slip estimators.  Extending upon our earlier work, we develop a novel explicit track-to-track fusion algorithm for UKF-based multi-sensor networks that has immediate application to slip ratio estimation in WMRs. The algorithm demonstrates better consistency compared to the existing fusion techniques, since it implements an optimal fusion rule to sequentially combine local tracks. It also saves computational power due to the recursive propagation of cross-covariance matrices based on the statistical linearization technique, instead of performing online optimizations. We prove that this recursion only requires the information of the first and last tracks in a sequence if all local tracks are unbiased. We rigorously study various key properties of the developed fusion algorithm and show its superior level of confidence   when compared to the two prominent fusion methods of sequential and batch covariance intersection. The slip ratio estimation in a six-wheel WMR is considered as a case study, where the steerable wheel sets act as a network of sensors. The proposed slip estimator works based on the rigid body kinematics and readings of purely proprioceptive sensors, i.e., an inertial measurement unit and encoders. The slip estimator’s performance is evaluated in a high-fidelity software-in-the-loop simulation environment connecting MATLAB and CM Lab’s Vortex Studio software. In a comparison study that considers four rival strategies, we show the superiority of the proposed fusion method offering a balance between consistency, accuracy, and speed in real-time slip estimations.