This paper introduces a multi-level classification framework for the semantic annotation of urban maps as provided by a mobile robot. Environmental cues are considered for classification at different scales. The first stage considers local scene properties using a probabilistic bag-of-words classifier. The second stage incorporates contextual information across a given scene (spatial context) and across several consecutive scenes (temporal context) via a Markov Random Field (MRF). Our approach is driven by data from an onboard camera and 3D laser scanner and uses a combination of visual and geometric features. By framing the classification exercise probabilistically we take advantage of an information-theoretic bail-out policy when evaluating class-conditional likelihoods. This efficiency, combined with low order MRFs resulting from our two-stage approach, allows us to generate scene labels at speeds suitable for online deployment. We demonstrate the virtue of considering such spatial and temporal context during the classification task and analyze the performance of our technique on data gathered over almost 17 km of track through a city.
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