Autonomous Navigation and Mapping in GPS-Denied Environments at Defence R&D Canada

Scientists in the Autonomous Intelligent Systems Section (AISS) at Defence R&D Canada (DRDC) undertake research to enhance the state-of-the-art in autonomous localization, navigation and mapping for unmanned vehicles. Although related work relies on the availability of GPS as part of an integrated navigation system, AISS recognizes that fieldable autonomous military ground and air assets will be required to work in areas where the use of GPS for navigation and localization cannot be guaranteed due to occlusion, indoor operations and signal jamming. Even when GPS is present, its accuracy is often insufficient for unmanned mapping and navigation tasks. Under the Advanced Research Project 12pv, Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM), researchers are developing alternative technologies for navigation and mapping without GPS. These include a near real-time high-resolution 3D mapping system, a lidar-based visual teach and repeat system, and a multi-sensor place recognition system. Related technologies being developed at DRDC include control and SLAM algorithms for a man-packable quadrotor and vision-based autonomous convoying capabilities. These technologies exploit different sensing modalities and track relevant features from the environment to aid in navigation and mapping. The AISS multi-sensor approach ensures that these systems can be deployed in a myriad of operating environments including nighttime operations. This paper provides an overview of the aforementioned research and how it relates to future Canadian military applications.