Its your friendly neighborhood navigator here. I wanted to tell you about some work spearheaded by my colleague @amerzlyakov in doing comparisons of modern VSLAM techniques for the purposes of service robotics. This paper was accepted to IROS 2021, but you can find our pre-print version on Arxiv.
If you’re doing VSLAM work, or interested in it, please take a look and always happy if you cite it if you find this analysis useful . We conclude that of all the modern and openly available VSLAM techniques available, OpenVSLAM is the overall best option based on general service robot requirements. If you have hard time synchronized IMUs, ORB-SLAM3 is worth also evaluating, but even in that situation, OpenVSLAM had additional robustness in edge cases that you’d more commonly find in an industrial setting.
VSLAM still has some ways to go. Few studies have really gone into long-term deployment to analyze their stability with changes over weeks, months, or years. That would be the best major hurtle to removing LIDARs from our robots – or reducing them into safety sensors with significantly reduced range and cost. OpenVSLAM may be able to handle such situations, but that is left to future work.
There are on-going efforts in the Nav2 working group to develop a functional VSLAM technique for mobile robot navigation and tight integration with the ROS Nav2 stack. This would not replace support for 2D SLAM in Nav2, but it would be offered in addition to, with equal support and reliability. If this interests you, please reach out. We are working on this as a cross-collaboration between Samsung Research and LP-Research. We could always use another set of hands or some smart minds interested in making this technology “really work” today.