Observability Analysis and Keyframe-Based Filtering for Visual Inertial Odometry with Full Self-Calibration

Jianzhu Huai, Yukai Lin, Yuan Zhuang, Charles Toth, Dong Chen

Camera-IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) sensor fusion has been extensively studied in recent decades. Numerous observability analysis and fusion schemes for motion estimation with self-calibration have been presented. However, it has been uncertain whether both camera and IMU intrinsic parameters are observable under general motion. To answer this question, we first prove that for a global shutter camera-IMU system, all intrinsic and extrinsic parameters are observable with an unknown landmark. Given this, time offset and readout time of a rolling shutter (RS) camera also prove to be observable. Next, to validate this analysis and to solve the drift issue of a structureless filter during standstills, we develop a Keyframe-based Sliding Window Filter (KSWF) for odometry and self-calibration, which works with a monocular RS camera or stereo RS cameras. Though the keyframe concept is widely used in vision-based sensor fusion, to our knowledge, KSWF is the first of its kind to support self-calibration. Our simulation and real data tests validated that it is possible to fully calibrate the camera-IMU system using observations of opportunistic landmarks under diverse motion. Real data tests confirmed previous allusions that keeping landmarks in the state vector can remedy the drift in standstill, and showed that the keyframe-based scheme is an alternative cure.

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