Global Indoor self-localization based on the ambient magnetic field
There is evidence that animals utilize local anomalities of Earth’s magnetic field not just for orientation detection but also for true navigation, i.e., some animals are not only able to detect the direction of Earth’s magnetic field (compass heading), they are able to derive positional information from local cues arising from the local anomalities of Earth’s magnetic field. Similarly to Earth’s non-constant magnetic field, the magnetic field inside buildings can be highly non-uniform. The magnetic field fluctuations inside buildings arise from both natural and man-made sources, such as steel and reinforced concrete structures, electric power systems, electric and electronic appliances, and industrial devices. Assuming that the anomalities of the magnetic field inside a building are nearly static and they have sufficient local variability, the anomalies provide a unique magnetic fingerprint that can be utilized in global self-localization. Based on the evidence presented in this article it can be argued that this hypothesis is valid. In this article, a Monte Carlo Localization (MCL) technique based on the above hypothesis is proposed. The feasibility of the technique is demonstrated by presenting a series of global self-localization experiments conducted in four arbitrarily selected buildings, including a hospital. The experiment setup consists of a mobile robot instrumented with a 3-axis magnetometer and a computer. In addition to global robot self-localization experiments, successful person self-localization experiments were also conducted by using a wireless, wearable magnetometer. The reported experiments suggest that the ambient magnetic field may remain sufficiently stable for longer periods of time giving support for self-localization techniques utilizing the local deviations of the magnetic field.
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