*Adam Milstein, Javier Nicolás Sánchez, and Evan Tang Williamson, Stanford University*

Global mobile robot localization is the problem of determining a robot’s pose in an environment, using sensor data, when the starting position is unknown. A family of probabilistic algorithms known as Monte Carlo Localization (MCL) is currently among the most popular methods for solving this problem. MCL algorithms represent a robot’s belief by a set of weighted samples, which approximate the posterior probability of where the robot is located by using a Bayesian formulation of the localization problem. This article presents an extension to the MCL algorithm, which addresses its problems when localizing in highly symmetrical environments; a situation where MCL is often unable to correctly track equally probable poses for the robot. The problem arises from the fact that sample sets in MCL often become impoverished, when samples are generated according to their posterior likelihood. Our approach incorporates the idea of clusters of samples and modifies the proposal distribution considering the probability mass of those clusters. Experimental results are presented that show that this new extension to the MCL algorithm successfully localizes in symmetric environments where ordinary MCL often fails.

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