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Volume 26 Issue 10 - Publication Date: 1 September 2007
 
Extending the Path-Planning Horizon
 
B. Nabbe Tandent Vision Science, Inc. San Francisco CA 94111 and M. Hebert The Robotics Institute Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh PA 15213
 
The mobility sensors on a typical mobile robot vehicle have limited range. Therefore a navigation system has no knowledge about the world beyond this sensing horizon. As a result, path planners that rely only on this knowledge to compute paths are unable to anticipate obstacles sufficiently early and have no choice but to resort to an inefficient local obstacle avoidance behavior. To alleviate this problem, we present an opportunistic navigation and view planning strategy that incorporates look-ahead sensing of possible obstacle configurations. This planning strategy is based on a “what-if” analysis of hypothetical future configurations of the environment. Candidate sensing positions are evaluated based on their ability to observe anticipated obstacles. These sensing positions identified by this forward-simulation framework are used by the planner as intermediate waypoints. The validity of the strategy is supported by results from simulations as well as field experiments with a real robotic platform. These results show that significant reduction in path length can be achieved by using this framework.
 
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