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Recursive Bayesian Estimation: Navigation and Tracking Applications

Author: N. Bergman
Published: PhD. Thesis, 1999.
Research area: Signal Processing
Keywords: Bayesian, Recursive Estimation, Cramér-Rao bounds, Terrain Navigation, Target Tracking

Thesis as PDF (4177 kbytes)

Recursive estimation deals with the problem of extracting information about parameters, or states, of a dynamical system in real time, given noisy measurements of the system output. Recursive estimation plays a central role in many applications of signal processing, system identification and automatic control. In this thesis we study nonlinear and non-Gaussian recursive estimation problems in discrete time. Our interest in these problems stems from the airborne applications of target tracking, and autonomous aircraft navigation using terrain information.

In the Bayesian framework of recursive estimation, both the sought parameters and the observations are considered as stochastic processes. The conceptual solution to the estimation problem is found as a recursive expression for the posterior probability density function of the parameters conditioned on the observed measurements. This optimal solution to nonlinear recursive estimation is usually impossible to compute in practice, since it involves several integrals that lack analytical solutions.

We phrase the application of terrain navigation in the Bayesian framework, and develop a numerical approximation to the optimal but intractable recursive solution. The designed point-mass filter computes a discretized version of the posterior filter density in a uniform mesh over the interesting region of the parameter space. Both the uniform mesh resolution and the grid point locations are automatically adjusted at each iteration of the algorithm. This Bayesian point-mass solution is shown to yield high navigation performance in a simulated realistic environment.

Even though the optimal Bayesian solution is intractable to implement, the performance of the optimal solution is assessable and can be used for comparative evaluation of suboptimal implementations. We derive explicit expressions for the Cramér-Rao bound of general nonlinear filtering, smoothing and prediction problems. We consider both the cases of random and nonrandom modeling of the parameters. The bounds are recursively expressed and are connected to linear recursive estimation. The newly developed Cramér-Rao bounds are applied to the terrain navigation problem, and the point-mass filter is verified to reach the bound in exhaustive simulations.

The uniform mesh of the point-mass filter limits it to estimation problems of low dimension. Monte Carlo methods offer an alternative approach to recursive estimation and promise tractable solutions to general high dimensional estimation problems. We provide a review over the active field of statistical Monte Carlo methods. In particular, we study the particle filters for recursive estimation. Three different particle filters are applied to terrain navigation, and evaluated against the Cramér-Rao bound and the point-mass filter. The particle filters utilize an adaptive grid representation of the filter density and are shown to yield a performance equal to the point-mass method.

A Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method is developed for a highly complex data association problem in target tracking. This algorithm is compared to previously proposed methods and is shown to yield competitive results in a simulation study.


    author = "Bergman, Niclas",
    title = "Recursive Bayesian Estimation: Navigation and Tracking Applications",
    year = "1999",
    month = May,
    type = "Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Thesis No 579",