Postprint version. Published in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Volume 53, Issue 3-4, December 31, 2005, pages 244-264. Copyright © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.robot.2005.09.002.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Christopher Clark was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
This paper presents a Probabilistic Road Map (PRM) motion planning algorithm to be queried within Dynamic Robot Networks—a multi-robot coordination platform for robots operating with limited sensing and inter-robot communication.
First, the Dynamic Robot Networks (DRN) coordination platform is introduced that facilitates centralized robot coordination across ad hoc networks, allowing safe navigation in dynamic, unknown environments. As robots move about their environment, they dynamically form communication networks. Within these networks, robots can share local sensing information and coordinate the actions of all robots in the network.
Second, a fast single-query Probabilistic Road Map (PRM) to be called within the DRN platform is presented that has been augmented with new sampling strategies. Traditional PRM strategies have shown success in searching large configuration spaces. Considered here is their application to on-line, centralized, multiple mobile robot planning problems. New sampling strategies that exploit the kinematics of non-holonomic mobile robots have been developed and implemented. First, an appropriate method of selecting milestones in a PRM is identified to enable fast coverage of the configuration space. Second, a new method of generating PRM milestones is described that decreases the planning time over traditional methods. Finally, a new endgame region for multi-robot PRMs is presented that increases the likelihood of finding solutions given difficult goal configurations.
Combining the DRN platform with these new sampling strategies, on-line centralized multi-robot planning is enabled. This allows robots to navigate safely in environments that are both dynamic and unknown. Simulations and real robot experiments are presented that demonstrate: (1) speed improvements accomplished by the sampling strategies, (2) centralized robot coordination across Dynamic Robot Networks, (3) on-the-fly motion planning to avoid moving and previously unknown obstacles and (4) autonomous robot navigation towards individual goal locations.