288 pp. per issue
6 x 9, illustrated
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Neural Computation

March 1, 1997, Vol. 9, No. 3, Pages 683-699
(doi: 10.1162/neco.1997.9.3.683)
© 1997 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A Mobile Robot That Learns Its Place
Article PDF (233.82 KB)

We show how a neural network can be used to allow a mobile robot to derive an accurate estimate of its location from noisy sonar sensors and noisy motion information. The robot's model of its location is in the form of a probability distribution across a grid of possible locations. This distribution is updated using both the motion information and the predictions of a neural network that maps locations into likelihood distributions across possible sonar readings. By predicting sonar readings from locations, rather than vice versa, the robot can handle the very nongaussian noise in the sonar sensors. By using the constraint provided by the noisy motion information, the robot can use previous readings to improve its estimate of its current location. By treating the resulting estimates as if they were correct, the robot can learn the relationship between location and sonar readings without requiring an external supervision signal that specifies the actual location of the robot. It can learn to locate itself in a new environment with almost no supervision, and it can maintain its location ability even when the environment is nonstationary.