Positioning device for outdoor mobile robots using optical sensors and lasers

Isaku Nagai, Genki Yamauchi, Keiji Nagatani, Keigo Watanabe, Kazuya Yoshida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


We propose a novel method for positioning a mobile robot in an outdoor environment using lasers and optical sensors. Position estimation via a noncontact optical method is useful because the information from the wheel odometer and the global positioning system in a mobile robot is unreliable in some situations. Contact optical sensors such as computer mouse are designed to be in contact with a surface and do not function well in strong ambient light conditions. To mitigate the challenges of an outdoor environment, we developed an optical device with a bandpass filter and a pipe to restrict solar light and to detect translation. The use of two devices enables sensing of the mobile robot's position, including posture. Furthermore, employing a collimated laser beam allows measurements against a surface to be invariable with the distance to the surface. In this paper, we describe motion estimation, device configurations, and several tests for performance evaluation. We also present the experimental positioning results from a vehicle equipped with our optical device on an outdoor path. Finally, we discuss an improvement in postural accuracy by combining an optical device with precise gyroscopes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1147-1160
Number of pages14
JournalAdvanced Robotics
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jul


  • Laser speckle pattern
  • Mobile robot
  • Optical sensor
  • Position estimation


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