Workshop: 4th Robot Learning Workshop: Self-Supervised and Lifelong Learning

Solving Occlusion in Terrain Mapping using Neural Networks

Maximilian Stölzle · Martin Azkarate · Marco Hutter


Accurate and complete terrain maps enhance the awareness of autonomous robots and enable safe and optimal path planning. Rocks and topography often create occlusions and lead to missing elevation information in Digital Elevation Maps (DEMs). Currently, mostly traditional inpainting techniques based on diffusion or patch-matching are used by autonomous mobile robots to fill-in incomplete DEMs. These methods cannot leverage the high-level terrain characteristics and the geometric constraints of line of sight we humans use intuitively to predict occluded areas. We propose to use neural networks to reconstruct the occluded areas in DEMs. We introduce a self-supervised learning approach capable of training on real-world data without a need for ground-truth information. We accomplish this by adding artificial occlusion to the incomplete elevation maps constructed on a real robot by performing ray casting. We evaluate our self-supervised learning approach on several real-world datasets which were recorded during autonomous exploration of both structured and unstructured terrain with a legged robot, and additionally in a planetary scenario on Lunar analogue terrain. We state a significant improvement compared to the Telea and Navier-Stokes baseline.

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