Localization of mobile robots through optical flow and sensor fusion in mining environments

  • Jacó Domingues UFOP / Instituto Tecnológico Vale
  • Héctor Azpúrua Instituto Tecnológico Vale
  • Gustavo Freitas UFOP / Instituto Tecnológico Vale / UFMG
  • Gustavo Pessin UFOP / Instituto Tecnológico Vale


Currently, autonomous mining vehicles are using GNSS for localization. Due to atmospheric phenomena, the GNSS signal becomes unstable, making autonomous equipment stop their movements, thus decreasing the mine's productivity. This paper presents a method to estimate the 2D localization of ground vehicles through the optical flow from images of a camera pointed at the ground, IMU, and wheel encoder, focusing on mining environments. Using a ground-facing camera is more robust to particulates in the air, like fog and dust, than techniques using horizon-facing sensors. We analyze five implementations for localization: (1) using wheel encoders, (2) a visual-only method, (3) using the IMU orientation and linear displacement by visual information, (4) obtained by merging wheel encoder and IMU data using Extended Kalman Filter (EKF), and (5) an EKF using visual, encoder, and IMU data. We perform tests in mining-like environments in simulation and field experiments. Simulations are implemented in CoppeliaSim software and make use of realistic textures. In the field experiments, we use a mobile robot equipped with a camera, IMU, and GNSS receiver with RTK correction, which we consider the robot's actual position (ground truth). Results show that the proposed methods are promising but need to become more accurate for use in heavy mining vehicles.
Palavras-chave: Location awareness, Global navigation satellite system, Visualization, Robot vision systems, Wheels, Inspection, Cameras, Odometry, Optical Flow, Localization, Sensor fusion, Extended Kalman Filter
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DOMINGUES, Jacó; AZPÚRUA, Héctor; FREITAS, Gustavo; PESSIN, Gustavo. Localization of mobile robots through optical flow and sensor fusion in mining environments. In: SIMPÓSIO BRASILEIRO DE ROBÓTICA E SIMPÓSIO LATINO AMERICANO DE ROBÓTICA (SBR/LARS), 19. , 2022, São Bernardo do Campo/SP. Anais [...]. Porto Alegre: Sociedade Brasileira de Computação, 2022 . p. 330-335.