INFORMATION-DRIVEN AUTONOMOUS EXPLORATION FOR A VISION-BASED MAV
Most micro aerial vehicles (MAV) are flown manually by a pilot. When it comes to autonomous exploration for MAVs equipped with cameras, we need a good exploration strategy for covering an unknown 3D environment in order to build an accurate map of the scene. In particular, the robot must select appropriate viewpoints to acquire informative measurements. In this paper, we present an approach that computes in real-time a smooth flight path with the exploration of a 3D environment using a vision-based MAV. We assume to know a bounding box of the object or building to explore and our approach iteratively computes the next best viewpoints using a utility function that considers the expected information gain of new measurements, the distance between viewpoints, and the smoothness of the flight trajectories. In addition, the algorithm takes into account the elapsed time of the exploration run to safely land the MAV at its starting point after a user specified time. We implemented our algorithm and our experiments suggest that it allows for a precise reconstruction of the 3D environment while guiding the robot smoothly through the scene.