The Robotics Institute
RI | Seminar | March 14

Robotics Institute Seminar, March 14
Time and Place | Seminar Abstract | Speaker Biography | Speaker Appointments

Cooperative Approaches to Localization, Mapping and Exploration

Andrew Howard

University of Southern California

Time and Place

1305 Newell-Simon Hall
Refreshments 3:15 pm
Talk 3:30 pm


The potential of mobile robot teams for solving real-world problems remains largely unexploited. In this talk, I will describe some cooperative multi-robot approaches to traditional single-robot tasks, such as localization, mapping and exploration. Rather than attempting to generalize existing single-robot solutions, these cooperative approaches exploit the availability of more than one robot to solve tasks in qualitatively different ways. These approaches are also motivated by the observation that while engineering the environment to suit the task is often impossible or undesirable, no such limitations apply when it comes to engineering the robot. We may, for example, choose to equip our robots with unique beacons, and utilize these robots as 'mobile landmarks'. For localization tasks, we can deploy such robots to areas of the environment that otherwise lack useful features.

For concurrent mapping and localization (CML), robots may be used in pairs to close loops; with two robots it is possible to disambiguate features in partial maps, and thereby side-step the data-association problem associated with single-robot CML.

Three specific problems (and their solutions) are described in this talk: (1) cooperative relative localization, by which robots are able maintain estimates of their pose relative to team-members; (2) deployment for coverage, in which robots are dynamically placed in an environment to form a distributed sensor network; and (3) cooperative exploration and mapping, in which we seek both to parallelize the exploration task, and, more significantly, to perform active loop closure.

Speaker Biography

Dr. Andrew Howard is a Research Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Southern California (USC); he is a member of Robotics Research Laboratory (RRL) and the Center for Robotics and Embedded Systems (CRES). His research interests include multi-robot localization, exploration and coordination, distributed sensor/actuator networks, and simulation of large-scale multi-robot systems. Dr. Howard received his Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Melbourne in 1999, and his B.Sc. (Hons.) in Theoretical Physics from the same institution in 1991. He served as RoboCup coordinator at the University of Melbourne prior to joining USC in the Fall of 2000.

Speaker Appointments

For appointments, please contact Reid Simmons (

The Robotics Institute is part of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.