Enhanced Mapping and Positioning System for Navigation and Mapping in GPS Denied Environments

Reference#: P03480

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) has developed the Enhanced Mapping and Positioning System (EMAPS) to automatically create annotated physical maps of GPS-denied environments in real time. This system improves upon Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) algorithms developed for use by robotic platforms for navigation. The basic SLAM algorithms have been adapted to allow for the dynamic motion generated by normal human movement through the environment. Novel algorithms have been developed to allow unbounded map generation from a backpack system, while allowing environmental data, including omnidirectional images as well as sensor readings from radiologic and other environmental sensors, to be associated with very accurate map locations. Additionally, three-dimensional (3-D) data may be collected from the environment to generate 3-D point clouds of areas mapped. The basic EMAPS unit is approximately a 6-inch cube weighing less than 4 lb.

The EMAPS hardware is composed of the following key components:

  • A 270-degree laser scanner used to measure the distances to walls and features in the environment. An optional second laser scanner is available to allow 3-D data collection.

  • An inertial sensor that measures the roll, pitch, and yaw of the system. The sensor is used to detect steps taken by the user.

  • An onboard computer system with a removable solid-state hard drive to allow real-time data processing and storage of data.

  • A removable camera system used to capture omnidirectional images along the path traversed. These images may be clicked and dragged to provide a virtual tour of the area that has been mapped.

  • A barometric altimeter for automatic floor change detection.

  • An optional wireless foot-based inertial pedometer system is available to allow position tracking in featureless environments.

  • The unit supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Wired Ethernet communications.

  • External GPS systems may be connected to the system via available USB ports to allow for georegistration of data collected.

  • The EMAPS software addresses numerous challenges through novel algorithms developed for the system.
  • The EMAPS unit has collected more than 100 hours of mapping data from a wide array of GPS-denied environments, including six different ships, underground storage facilities, buildings, training areas, and the JHU/APL campus. Maps have been completed with paths of several kilometers in length in environments ranging from simple office buildings to complex engine rooms of ships at sea. The following images show some of the interesting data sets collected.

    Patent Status: U.S. patents pending.

    Mr. K. Chao
    Phone: (443) 778-7927

    Additional References:

    hardware image