Date of Award


Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Robotics Institute


Charles Thorpe

Second Advisor

Brett Browning

Third Advisor

Martial Hebert

Fourth Advisor

Frank Dellaert


Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) has been an active area of research for several decades, and has become a foundation of indoor mobile robotics. However, although the scale and quality of results have improved markedly in that time period, no current technique can e ectively handle city-sized urban areas.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is an extraordinarily useful source of localization information. Unfortunately, the noise characteristics of the system are complex, arising from a large number of sources, some of which have large autocorrelation. Incorporation of GPS signals into SLAM algorithms requires using low-level system information and explicit models of the underlying system to make appropriate use of the information. The potential bene ts of combining GPS and SLAM include increased robustness, increased scalability, and improved accuracy of localization.

This dissertation presents a theoretical background for GPS-SLAM fusion. The presented model balances ease of implementation with correct handling of the highly colored sources of noise in a GPS system.. This utility of the theory is explored and validated in the framework of a simulated Extended Kalman Filter driven by real-world noise.

The model is then extended to Smoothing and Mapping (SAM), which overcomes the linearization and algorithmic complexity limitations of the EKF formulation. This GPS-SAM model is used to generate a probabilistic landmark-based urban map covering an area an order of magnitude larger than previous work.