Passive Landmark Geometry Optimization and Evaluation for Reliable Autonomous Navigation in Mining Tunnels Using 2D Lidars

Miguel Torres-Torriti*, Paola Nazate-Burgos, Fabián Paredes-Lizama, Javier Guevara, Fernando Auat Cheein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Autonomous navigation in mining tunnels is challenging due to the lack of satellite positioning signals and visible natural landmarks that could be exploited by ranging systems. Solutions requiring stable power feeds for locating beacons and transmitters are not accepted because of accidental damage risks and safety requirements. Hence, this work presents an autonomous navigation approach based on artificial passive landmarks, whose geometry has been optimized in order to ensure drift-free localization of mobile units typically equipped with lidar scanners. The main contribution of the approach lies in the design and optimization of the landmarks that, combined with scan matching techniques, provide a reliable pose estimation in modern smoothly bored mining tunnels. A genetic algorithm is employed to optimize the landmarks’ geometry and positioning, thus preventing that the localization problem becomes ill-posed. The proposed approach is validated both in simulation and throughout a series of experiments with an industrial skid-steer CAT 262C robotic excavator, showing the feasibility of the approach with inexpensive passive and low-maintenance landmarks. The results show that the optimized triangular and symmetrical landmarks improve the positioning accuracy by 87.5% per 100 m traveled compared to the accuracy without landmarks. The role of optimized artificial landmarks in the context of modern smoothly bored mining tunnels should not be understated. The results confirm that without the optimized landmarks, the localization error accumulates due to odometry drift and that, contrary to the general intuition or belief, natural tunnel features alone are not sufficient for unambiguous localization. Therefore, the proposed approach ensures grid-based SLAM techniques can be implemented to successfully navigate in smoothly bored mining tunnels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3038
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2023


  • 2D lidar navigation
  • GPS-denied environment
  • localization and SLAM in tunnels
  • scan matching
  • underground mining robots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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