Robotics: Science and Systems X

Self-Calibration and Visual SLAM with a Multi-Camera System on a Micro Aerial Vehicle

Lionel Heng, Gim Hee Lee, Marc Pollefeys


The use of a multi-camera system enables a robot to obtain a surround view, and thus, maximize its perceptual awareness of its environment. An accurate calibration is a necessary prerequisite if vision-based simultaneous localization and mapping (vSLAM) is expected to provide reliable pose estimates for a micro aerial vehicle (MAV) with a multi-camera system. On our MAV, we set up each camera pair in a stereo configuration. We propose a novel vSLAM-based self-calibration method for a multi-sensor system that includes multiple calibrated stereo cameras and an inertial measurement unit (IMU). Our self-calibration estimates the transform with metric scale between each camera and the IMU. Once the MAV is calibrated, the MAV is able to estimate its global pose via a multi-camera vSLAM implementation based on the generalized camera model. We propose a novel minimal and linear 3-point algorithm that uses inertial information to recover the relative motion of the MAV with metric scale. Our constant-time vSLAM implementation with loop closures runs on-board the MAV in real-time. To the best of our knowledge, no published work has demonstrated real-time on-board vSLAM with loop closures. We show experimental results in both indoor and outdoor environments. The code for both the self-calibration and vSLAM is available as a set of ROS packages at



    AUTHOR    = {Lionel Heng AND Gim Hee Lee AND Marc Pollefeys}, 
    TITLE     = {Self-Calibration and Visual SLAM with a Multi-Camera System on a Micro Aerial Vehicle}, 
    BOOKTITLE = {Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems}, 
    YEAR      = {2014}, 
    ADDRESS   = {Berkeley, USA}, 
    MONTH     = {July},
    DOI       = {10.15607/RSS.2014.X.008}