Non-Linearity Measure for POMDP-based Motion Planning

by   Marcus Hoerger, et al.

Motion planning under uncertainty is essential for reliable robot operation. Despite substantial advances over the past decade, the problem remains difficult for systems with complex dynamics. Most state-of-the-art methods perform search that relies on a large number of forward simulations. For systems with complex dynamics, this generally require costly numerical integrations which significantly slows down the planning process. Linearization-based methods have been proposed that can alleviate the above problem. However, it is not clear how linearization affects the quality of the generated motion strategy, and when such simplifications are admissible. We propose a non-linearity measure, called Statistical-distance-based Non-linearity Measure (SNM), that can identify where linearization is beneficial and where it should be avoided. We show that when the problem is framed as the Partially Observable Markov Decision Process, the value difference between the optimal strategy for the original model and the linearized model can be upper bounded by a function linear in SNM. Comparisons with an existing measure on various scenarios indicate that SNM is more suitable in estimating the effectiveness of linearization-based solvers. To test the applicability of SNM in motion planning, we propose a simple on-line planner that uses SNM as a heuristic to switch between a general and a linearization-based solver. Results on a car-like robot with second order dynamics and 4-DOFs and 7-DOFs torque-controlled manipulators indicate that SNM can appropriately decide if and when a linearization-based solver should be used.


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