Robot navigation is one of the most studied problems in robotics and the key capability for robot autonomy. Navigation techniques have become more and more reliable, but evaluation mainly focused on individual navigation components (i.e., mapping, localization, and planning) using datasets or simulations. The goal of this paper is to define an experimental protocol to evaluate the whole navigation system, deployed in a real environment. To ensure repeatability and reproducibility of experiments, our benchmark protocol provides detailed definitions and controls the environment dynamics. We define standardized environments and introduce the concept of a reference robot to allow comparison between different navigation systems at different experimentation sites.
We present applications of our protocol in experiments in two different research groups, showing the usefulness of the benchmark.