skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on April 24, 2024

Title: Inertial Navigation on Extremely Resource-Constrained Platforms: Methods, Opportunities and Challenges
Inertial navigation provides a small footprint, low-power, and low-cost pathway for localization in GPS-denied environments on extremely resource-constrained Internet-of-Things (IoT) platforms. Traditionally, application-specific heuristics and physics-based kinematic models are used to mitigate the curse of drift in inertial odometry. These techniques, albeit lightweight, fail to handle domain shifts and environmental non-linearities. Recently, deep neural-inertial sequence learning has shown superior odometric resolution in capturing non-linear motion dynamics without human knowledge over heuristic-based methods. These AI-based techniques are data-hungry, suffer from excessive resource usage, and cannot guarantee following the underlying system physics. This paper highlights the unique methods, opportunities, and challenges in porting real-time AI-enhanced inertial navigation algorithms onto IoT platforms. First, we discuss how platform-aware neural architecture search coupled with ultra-lightweight model backbones can yield neural-inertial odometry models that are 31–134 x smaller yet achieve or exceed the localization resolution of state-of-the-art AI-enhanced techniques. The framework can generate models suitable for locating humans, animals, underwater sensors, aerial vehicles, and precision robots. Next, we showcase how techniques from neurosymbolic AI can yield physics-informed and interpretable neural-inertial navigation models. Afterward, we present opportunities for fine-tuning pre-trained odometry models in a new domain with as little as 1 minute of labeled data, while discussing inexpensive data collection and labeling techniques. Finally, we identify several open research challenges that demand careful consideration moving forward.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1925360 2213839 2047663 1822935 1705135
NSF-PAR ID:
10422892
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
2023 IEEE/ION Position, Location and Navigation Symposium (PLANS)
Page Range / eLocation ID:
708 to 723
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Deep inertial sequence learning has shown promising odometric resolution over model-based approaches for trajectory estimation in GPS-denied environments. However, existing neural inertial dead-reckoning frameworks are not suitable for real-time deployment on ultra-resource-constrained (URC) devices due to substantial memory, power, and compute bounds. Current deep inertial odometry techniques also suffer from gravity pollution, high-frequency inertial disturbances, varying sensor orientation, heading rate singularity, and failure in altitude estimation. In this paper, we introduce TinyOdom, a framework for training and deploying neural inertial models on URC hardware. TinyOdom exploits hardware and quantization-aware Bayesian neural architecture search (NAS) and a temporal convolutional network (TCN) backbone to train lightweight models targetted towards URC devices. In addition, we propose a magnetometer, physics, and velocity-centric sequence learning formulation robust to preceding inertial perturbations. We also expand 2D sequence learning to 3D using a model-free barometric g-h filter robust to inertial and environmental variations. We evaluate TinyOdom for a wide spectrum of inertial odometry applications and target hardware against competing methods. Specifically, we consider four applications: pedestrian, animal, aerial, and underwater vehicle dead-reckoning. Across different applications, TinyOdom reduces the size of neural inertial models by 31× to 134× with 2.5m to 12m error in 60 seconds, enabling the direct deployment of models on URC devices while still maintaining or exceeding the localization resolution over the state-of-the-art. The proposed barometric filter tracks altitude within ±0.1m and is robust to inertial disturbances and ambient dynamics. Finally, our ablation study shows that the introduced magnetometer, physics, and velocity-centric sequence learning formulation significantly improve localization performance even with notably lightweight models. 
    more » « less
  2. Integrated modeling of vehicle, tire and terrain is a fundamental challenge to be addressed for off-road autonomous navigation. The complexities arise due to lack of tools and techniques to predict the continuously varying terrain and environmental conditions and the resultant non-linearities. The solution to this challenge can now be found in the plethora of data driven modeling and control techniques that have gained traction in the last decade. Data driven modeling and control techniques rely on the system’s repeated interaction with the environment to generate a lot of data and then use a function approximator to fit a model for the physical system with the data. Getting good quality and quantity of data may involve extensive experimentation with the physical system impacting developer’s resource. The process is computationally expensive, and the overhead time required is high.
    High-fidelity simulators coupled with cloud-based containers can help ease the challenge of data ‘quality’ and ‘quantity’. Project Chrono is a multi-physics simulation engine that provides high-fidelity simulation capabilities with emphasis on flow and terrain modeling. With a host of libraries and APIs for industry accepted tools like MATLAB, Simulink and TensorFlow, Project Chrono proves to be a powerful research bed for data-driven modeling and control development for off-road navigation. Containers are lightweight virtual machines that take away repetitive configurations by setting up a computational environment, including all necessary dependencies and libraries. Docker encapsulates an end-to-end platform solution for heavy computation challenges of deep learning applications and allows fast development and testing. The synergy between the high-fidelity simulator and the compute outsourcing capabilities of cloud-based containers proves to be extremely beneficial for continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) for data driven modeling and control tasks. In the following work, we containerize a high-fidelity simulator (Project Chrono) to develop and validate data driven modeling and control algorithms for off-road autonomous navigation.

     
    more » « less
  3. Precision agricultural robots require high-resolution navigation solutions. In this paper, we introduce a robust neural-inertial sequence learning approach to track such robots with ultra-intermittent GNSS updates. First, we propose an ultra-lightweight neural-Kalman filter that can track agricultural robots within 1.4 m (1.4–5.8× better than competing techniques), while tracking within 2.75 m with 20 mins of GPS outage. Second, we introduce a user-friendly video-processing toolbox to generate high-resolution (±5 cm) position data for fine-tuning pre-trained neural-inertial models in the field. Third, we introduce the first and largest (6.5 hours, 4.5 km, 3 phases) public neural-inertial navigation dataset for precision agricultural robots. The dataset, toolbox, and code are available at: https://github.com/nesl/agrobot. 
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    This work presents the design and autonomous navigation policy of the Resilient Micro Flyer, a new type of collision-tolerant robot tailored to fly through extremely confined environments and manhole-sized tubes. The robot maintains a low weight (<500g) and implements a combined rigid-compliant design through the integration of elastic flaps around its stiff collision-tolerant frame. These passive flaps ensure compliant collisions, contact sensing and smooth navigation in contact with the environment. Focusing on resilient autonomy, capable of running on resource-constrained hardware, we demonstrate the beneficial role of compliant collisions for the reliability of the onboard visual-inertial odometry and propose a safe navigation policy that exploits both collision-avoidance using lightweight time-of-flight sensing and adaptive control in response to collisions. The robot further realizes an explicit manhole navigation mode that exploits the direct mechanical feedback provided by the flaps and a special navigation strategy to self-align inside manholes with non-straight geometry. Comprehensive experimental studies are presented to evaluate, both individually and as a whole, how resilience is achieved based on the robot design and its navigation scheme. 
    more » « less
  5. Precision agricultural robots require highresolution navigation solutions. In this paper, we introduce a robust neural-inertial sequence learning approach to track such robots with ultra-intermittent GNSS updates. First, we propose an ultra-lightweight neural-Kalman filter that can track agricultural robots within 1.4 m (1.4 - 5.8× better than competing techniques), while tracking within 2.75 m with 20 mins of GPS outage. Second, we introduce a user-friendly video-processing toolbox to generate high-resolution (±5 cm) position data for fine-tuning pre-trained neural-inertial models in the field. Third, we introduce the first and largest (6.5 hours, 4.5 km, 3 phases) public neural-inertial navigation dataset for precision agricultural robots. The dataset, toolbox, and code are available at: https://github.com/nesl/agrobot. 
    more » « less