Odometry sensor

From Computer Science Wiki

An odometry sensor is a device used to estimate the change in position over time of a vehicle, like a car or a robot, based on data from its own sensors. The term "odometry" comes from the combination of "hodos", meaning path or way in Greek, and "metron", meaning measure. Therefore, it's all about measuring the path a vehicle takes.

There are several types of odometry sensors, and they work in different ways:

  1. Wheel Encoders: In many robots, especially wheeled ones, a common type of odometry sensor is a wheel encoder. These devices measure the rotation of the robot's wheels. By knowing the size of the wheel and how much it has turned, the robot can estimate how far it has moved. If the robot has multiple wheels and can measure their rotations separately, it can also estimate changes in its orientation (which way it's pointing).
  2. Visual Odometry: This is a method of odometry that uses cameras to estimate motion. By identifying key points in the environment and tracking how these points move across frames, the robot can estimate its own motion. This can be especially useful in environments where wheel encoders might be unreliable, like on uneven terrain or in low-friction environments.
  3. Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs): These are devices that measure acceleration and angular velocity, which can be integrated over time to estimate changes in position and orientation. However, IMU measurements tend to accumulate errors over time, so they are often used in combination with other types of odometry.

In the context of rescue robots, odometry sensors are crucial for navigation. For example, by knowing how much it has moved, a robot can keep track of its position relative to its starting point (a method known as dead reckoning), or it can combine odometry data with data from other sensors (like GPS or LiDAR) to build a map of its environment and its position within that map.