UNav: An Infrastructure-Independent Vision-Based Navigation System for People with Blindness and Low Vision

Anbang Yang, Mahya Beheshti, Todd E. Hudson, Rajesh Vedanthan, Wachara Riewpaiboon, Pattanasak Mongkolwat, Chen Feng, John Ross Rizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Vision-based localization approaches now underpin newly emerging navigation pipelines for myriad use cases, from robotics to assistive technologies. Compared to sensor-based solutions, vision-based localization does not require pre-installed sensor infrastructure, which is costly, time-consuming, and/or often infeasible at scale. Herein, we propose a novel vision-based localization pipeline for a specific use case: navigation support for end users with blindness and low vision. Given a query image taken by an end user on a mobile application, the pipeline leverages a visual place recognition (VPR) algorithm to find similar images in a reference image database of the target space. The geolocations of these similar images are utilized in a downstream task that employs a weighted-average method to estimate the end user’s location. Another downstream task utilizes the perspective-n-point (PnP) algorithm to estimate the end user’s direction by exploiting the 2D–3D point correspondences between the query image and the 3D environment, as extracted from matched images in the database. Additionally, this system implements Dijkstra’s algorithm to calculate a shortest path based on a navigable map that includes the trip origin and destination. The topometric map used for localization and navigation is built using a customized graphical user interface that projects a 3D reconstructed sparse map, built from a sequence of images, to the corresponding a priori 2D floor plan. Sequential images used for map construction can be collected in a pre-mapping step or scavenged through public databases/citizen science. The end-to-end system can be installed on any internet-accessible device with a camera that hosts a custom mobile application. For evaluation purposes, mapping and localization were tested in a complex hospital environment. The evaluation results demonstrate that our system can achieve localization with an average error of less than 1 m without knowledge of the camera’s intrinsic parameters, such as focal length.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8894
JournalSensors
Volume22
Issue number22
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Keywords

  • PnP
  • topometric map
  • visual-based localization
  • VPR
  • weighted average

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Biochemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'UNav: An Infrastructure-Independent Vision-Based Navigation System for People with Blindness and Low Vision'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this