Localization in challenging, natural environments such as forests or
woodlands is an important capability for many applications from guiding a robot
navigating along a forest trail to monitoring vegetation growth with handheld
sensors. In this work we explore laser-based localization in both urban and
natural environments, which is suitable for online applications. We propose a
deep learning approach capable of learning meaningful descriptors directly from
3D point clouds by comparing triplets (anchor, positive and negative examples).
The approach learns a feature space representation for a set of segmented point
clouds that are matched between a current and previous observations. Our
learning method is tailored towards loop closure detection resulting in a small
model which can be deployed using only a CPU. The proposed learning method
would allow the full pipeline to run on robots with limited computational
payload such as drones, quadrupeds or UGVs.