Active Exploration and Mapping via Iterative Covariance Regulation over Continuous $SE(3)$ Trajectories

Shumon Koga, Arash Asgharivaskasi, Nikolay Atanasov

This paper develops \emph{iterative Covariance Regulation} (iCR), a novel method for active exploration and mapping for a mobile robot equipped with on-board sensors. The problem is posed as optimal control over the $SE(3)$ pose kinematics of the robot to minimize the differential entropy of the map conditioned the potential sensor observations. We introduce a differentiable field of view formulation, and derive iCR via the gradient descent method to iteratively update an open-loop control sequence in continuous space so that the covariance of the map estimate is minimized. We demonstrate autonomous exploration and uncertainty reduction in simulated occupancy grid environments.

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