New object-orientation algorithm could aid robots in navigation, scene understanding

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Suppose you’re trying to navigate an unfamiliar section of a big city, and you’re using a particular cluster of skyscrapers as a reference point. Traffic and one-way streets force you to take some odd turns, and for a while you lose sight of your landmarks. When they reappear, in order to use them for navigation, you have to be able to identify them as the same buildings you were tracking before — as well as your orientation relative to them.

That type of re-identification is second nature for humans, but it’s difficult for computers. At the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition in June, CSAIL researchers will present a new algorithm that could make it much easier, by identifying the major orientations in 3-D scenes. The same algorithm could also simplify the problem of scene understanding, one of the central challenges in computer vision research.

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