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A potential field approach to path planning

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2 Author(s)
Y. K. Hwang ; Illinois Univ., Urbana, IL, USA ; N. Ahuja

A path-planning algorithm for the classical mover's problem in three dimensions using a potential field representation of obstacles is presented. A potential function similar to the electrostatic potential is assigned to each obstacle, and the topological structure of the free space is derived in the form of minimum potential valleys. Path planning is done at two levels. First, a global planner selects a robot's path from the minimum potential valleys and its orientations along the path that minimize a heuristic estimate of the path length and the chance of collision. Then, a local planner modifies the path and orientations to derive the final collision-free path and orientations. If the local planner fails, a new path and orientations are selected by the global planner and subsequently examined by the local planner. This process is continued until a solution is found or there are no paths left to be examined. The algorithm solves a much wider class of problems than other heuristic algorithms and at the same time runs much faster than exact algorithms (typically 5 to 30 min on a Sun 3/260)

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation  (Volume:8 ,  Issue: 1 )