Since state of the art simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) algorithms are not constant time, it is often necessary to reduce the problem size while keeping as much of the original graph’s information content. In graph SLAM, the problem is reduced by removing nodes and rearranging factors. This is normally faced locally: after selecting a node to be removed, its Markov blanket sub-graph is isolated, the node is marginalized and its dense result is sparsified. The aim of sparsification is to compute an approximation of the dense and non-relinearizable result of node marginalization with a new set of factors. Sparsification consists on two processes: building the topology of new factors, and finding the optimal parameters that best approximate the original dense distribution. This best approximation can be obtained through minimization of the Kullback-Liebler divergence between the two distributions. Using simple topologies such as Chow-Liu trees, there is a closed form for the optimal solution. However, a tree is oftentimes too sparse and produces bad distribution approximations. On the contrary, more populated topologies require nonlinear iterative optimization. In the present paper, the particularities of pose-graph SLAM are exploited for designing new informative topologies and for applying the novel factor descent iterative optimization method for sparsification. Several experiments are provided comparing the proposed topology methods and factor descent optimization with state-of-the-art methods in synthetic and real datasets with regards to approximation accuracy and computational cost.


mobile robots.

Author keywords

Mobile robotics, SLAM, sparsification, factor recovery, topology

Scientific reference

J. Vallvé, J. Solà and J. Andrade-Cetto. Pose-graph SLAM sparsification using factor descent. Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 119: 108-118, 2019.