Chapter 4

Fusion in Robotics

4.1. The necessity for fusion in robotics

Robots are mechanical objects whose purpose it is to replace humans either in tasks that may be simple, repetitive or strenuous (a welding robot for automobile manufacturing), or in environments that may be dangerous (demining robots, contaminated environment robots) or inaccessible (Martian robots, underwater robots, micro-robots for surgery) [ROB 02]. One of the characteristics of robots is that they maneuver in the same type of environment as a human being, i.e. a three-dimensional space comprised of elements in situations that can change over time.

A robot's ability to move is related to its ability to perceive the environment, in order to know it (exploration), to move inside it (localization) and to interact with it (action) [ABI 92, KOS 93].

Perception is usually achieved by way of sensors embedded in the robot itself, much like a human being is equipped with eyes, skin to allow them to sense objects, with a balance mechanism (the inner ear) to allow them to maneuver inside their environment [FRA 00]. As with human beings, there are many different kinds of sensors and, usually, they make it possible to obtain complementary information on the robot's state, its situation with respect to the environment, and the state of that environment.

The perception system is closely related to the mission the robot must achieve and to the prior knowledge it has of the environment.

In the course of exploration, the ...

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