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The successful design and operation of autonomous or partially autonomous vehicles which are capable of traversing uncertain terrains requires the application of multiple sensors for tasks such as: local navigation, terrain evaluation, and feature recognition. In applications which include a teleoperation mode, there remains a serious need for local data reduction and decision-making to avoid the costly or impractical transmission of vast quantities of sensory data to a remote operator. There are several reasons to include multi-sensor fusion in a system design: (i) it allows the designer to combine intrinsically dissimilar data from several sensors to infer some property or properties of the environment, which no single sensor could otherwise obtain; and (ii) it allows the system designer to build a robust system by using partially redundant sources of noisy or otherwise uncertain information.
At present, the epistemology of multi-sensor fusion is incomplete. Basic research topics include the following task-related issues: (i) the value of a sensor suite; (ii) the layout, positioning, and control of sensors (as agents); (iii) the marginal value of sensor information; the value of sensing-time versus some measure of error reduction, e.g., statistical efficiency; (iv) the role of sensor models, as well as a priori models of the environment; and (v) the calculus or calculi by which consistent sensor data are determined and combined.
Date Posted: 17 August 2007