Planning Stable and Efficient Paths for Reconfigurable Robots On Uneven Terrain

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems: Theory and Applications, 2017, 87 (2), pp. 291 - 312
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© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. An analytical strategy to generate stable paths for reconfigurable mobile robots such as those equipped with manipulator arms and/or flippers, operating in an uneven environment whilst also meeting additional navigational objectives is hereby proposed. The suggested solution looks at minimising the length of the traversed path and the energy expenditure in changing postures, and also accounts for additional constraints in terms of sensor visibility and traction. This is particularly applicable to operations such as search and rescue where observing the environment for locating victims is the major objective, although this technique can be generalised to incorporate other potentially conflicting objectives (e.g. maximising ground clearance for a legged robot). The validity of the proposed approach is evaluated with two popular graph-based planners (A* and RRT) on a multi-tracked robot fitted with a manipulator arm and a range camera. Two challenging 3D terrain data sets have been employed: one obtained whilst operating the robot in a mock-up urban search and rescue (USAR) arena, and a second one, a reference on-line data set acquired on the quasi-outdoor rover testing facility at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS).
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