Online planning for multi-robot active perception with self-organising maps

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Autonomous Robots, 2018, 42 (4), pp. 715 - 738
Issue Date:
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© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. We propose a self-organising map (SOM) algorithm as a solution to a new multi-goal path planning problem for active perception and data collection tasks. We optimise paths for a multi-robot team that aims to maximally observe a set of nodes in the environment. The selected nodes are observed by visiting associated viewpoint regions defined by a sensor model. The key problem characteristics are that the viewpoint regions are overlapping polygonal continuous regions, each node has an observation reward, and the robots are constrained by travel budgets. The SOM algorithm jointly selects and allocates nodes to the robots and finds favourable sequences of sensing locations. The algorithm has a runtime complexity that is polynomial in the number of nodes to be observed and the magnitude of the relative weighting of rewards. We show empirically the runtime is sublinear in the number of robots. We demonstrate feasibility for the active perception task of observing a set of 3D objects. The viewpoint regions consider sensing ranges and self-occlusions, and the rewards are measured as discriminability in the ensemble of shape functions feature space. Exploration objectives for online tasks where the environment is only partially known in advance are modelled by introducing goal regions in unexplored space. Online replanning is performed efficiently by adapting previous solutions as new information becomes available. Simulations were performed using a 3D point-cloud dataset from a real robot in a large outdoor environment. Our results show the proposed methods enable multi-robot planning for online active perception tasks with continuous sets of candidate viewpoints and long planning horizons.
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