According to Wikipedia's article on SLAM, the original idea came from Randal Smith and Peter Cheeseman (On the Estimation and Representation of Spatial Uncertainty [PDF]) in 1986, and was refined by Hugh F. Durrant-Whyte and J.J. Leonard (Simultaneous map building and localization for an autonomous mobile robot) in 1991.

However, neither paper uses the term "SLAM". Where (and when) did that term come from? Was there a particular author or whitepaper that popularized it?

  • $\begingroup$ I ask because I'm working on a paper that has a similar "simultaneously do X and use X to do Y" subject, and I'm curious about what made the idea -- complicated as it is to implement -- compelling enough to become ubiquitous. I'd like to see how it was presented, and what was the state of the art at the time. $\endgroup$
    – Ian
    Commented Dec 1, 2012 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for "Simultaneous map building and localization for an autonomous mobile robot". $\endgroup$
    – CroCo
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 19:30

1 Answer 1


According to this SLAM tutorial,

The structure of the SLAM problem, the convergence result and the coining of the acronym ‘SLAM’ was first presented in a mobile robotics survey paper presented at the 1995 International Sym- posium on Robotics Research.

which refers to this paper ->

H. Durrant-Whyte, D. Rye, and E. Nebot. Localisation of automatic guided vehicles. In G. Giralt and G. Hirzinger, editors, Robotics Research: The 7th International Symposium (ISRR’95), pages 613–625. Springer Verlag, 1996.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It's a sad day when a researcher can't even cite his own paper correctly ... According to Springer, at least, the paper is called "Localization of Autonomous Guided Vehicles", which makes it at least findable in Google Scholar as a citation, though I can't get at the original either. $\endgroup$
    – ThomasH
    Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ @ThomasH No wonder it wasnt turning up anything on Google $\endgroup$
    – asheeshr
    Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ John Leonard confirms this in his talk $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 5, 2021 at 13:18

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