Visual odometry and control for an omnidirectional mobile robot with a downward-facing camera

Marc D. Killpack
Travis Deyle
Cressel Anderson
Charles Kemp


An omnidirectional Mecanum base allows for more flexible mobile manipulation. However, slipping of the Mecanum wheels results in poor dead-reckoning estimates from wheel encoders, limiting the accuracy and overall utility of this type of base. We present a system with a downward-facing camera and light ring to provide robust visual odometry estimates. We mounted the system under the robot which allows it to operate in conditions such as large crowds or low ambient lighting. We demonstrate that the visual odometry estimates are sufficient to generate closed-loop PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) and LQR (Linear Quadratic Regulator) controllers for motion control in three different scenarios: waypoint tracking, small disturbance rejection, and sideways motion. We report quantitative measurements that demonstrate superior control performance when using visual odometry compared to wheel encoders. Finally, we show that this system provides high-fidelity odometry estimates and is able to compensate for wheel slip on a four-wheeled omnidirectional mobile robot base