Efficient Path Planning in Narrow Passages via Closed-Form Minkowski Operations

04/10/2021 ∙ by Sipu Ruan, et al. ∙ 0

Path planning has long been one of the major research areas in robotics, with PRM and RRT being two of the most effective classes of path planners. Though generally very efficient, these sampling-based planners can become computationally expensive in the important case of "narrow passages". This paper develops a path planning paradigm specifically formulated for narrow passage problems. The core is based on planning for rigid-body robots encapsulated by unions of ellipsoids. The environmental features are enclosed geometrically using convex differentiable surfaces (e.g., superquadrics). The main benefit of doing this is that configuration-space obstacles can be parameterized explicitly in closed form, thereby allowing prior knowledge to be used to avoid sampling infeasible configurations. Then, by characterizing a tight volume bound for multiple ellipsoids, robot transitions involving rotations are guaranteed to be collision-free without traditional collision detection. Furthermore, combining the stochastic sampling strategy, the proposed planning framework can be extended to solving higher dimensional problems in which the robot has a moving base and articulated appendages. Benchmark results show that, remarkably, the proposed framework outperforms the popular sampling-based planners in terms of computational time and success rate in finding a path through narrow corridors and in higher dimensional configuration spaces.



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