Investigating unexplored region while making a map

When making a map using ROS, you’re likely tele-operating your robot for every single move via keyboard or joystick at best. But I know a demand exists for “planning” in advance a region that robot explores to make a map.

That’s where a package called frontier_exploration gets useful; it provides ROS actionlib interface, through which users can send the location to explore. We just made a sample using Turtlebot to show how to integrate frontier_exploration package into your own robot. Resulted package can be seen at turtlebot_samples. As the following movie (It’s long! You’re warned…) shows, you can run by a single command Gazebo simulator, spawn Turtlebot on a sample map and send a command for the exploration.

You set the region to be visited by drawing a polygon on RViz, then after clicking a point within the polygon robot will move. Once it starts moving user isn’t sending anything (robot moves autonomously to the given goal along the computed path).

Shorter video is also available (it’s not Turtlebot. Video was taken by the original developer of the frontier_exploration package)

In these videos the robot is commanded manually on RViz window. You can also send commands programmatically using its API.

So far we confirmed that frontier_exploration can be applied to the robots with gmapping and move_base (incorporating with other navigation packages may be as simple?).