Motion Planning for ReconfigurableMobile Robots Using Hierarchical FastMarching Trees

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Conference Proceeding
Website proceedings of the 12th Workshop on the Algorithmic Foundations of Robotics, 2016, pp. 1 - 16
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Reconfigurable mobile robots are versatile platforms that may safely traverse cluttered environments by morphing their physical geometry. However, planning paths for these robots is challenging due to their many degrees of freedom. We propose a novel hierarchical variant of the Fast Marching Tree (FMT*) algorithm. Our algorithm assumes a decomposition of the full state space into multiple sub-spaces, and begins by rapidly finding a set of paths through one such sub-space. This set of solutions is used to generate a biased sampling distribution, which is then explored to find a solution in the full state space. This technique provides a novel way to incorporate prior knowledge of sub-spaces to ef- ficiently bias search within the existing FMT* framework. Importantly, probabilistic completeness and asymptotic optimality are preserved. Experimental results are provided for a reconfigurable wheel-on-leg platform that benchmark the algorithm against state-of-the-art samplingbased planners. In minimizing an energy objective that combines the mechanical work required for platform locomotion with that required for reconfiguration, the planner produces intuitive behaviors where the robot dynamically adjusts its footprint, varies its height, and clambers over obstacles using legged locomotion. These results illustrate the generality of the planner in exploiting the platform’s mechanical ability to fluidly transition between various physical geometric configurations, and wheeled/legged locomotion modes.
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