We study a distributed approach to path planning. We focus on holonomic kinematic motion in cluttered 2D areas. The problem consists in defining the precise sequence of roto-translations of a rigid object of arbitrary shape that has to be transported from an initial to a final location through a large, cluttered environment. Our planning system is implemented as a swarm of flying robots that are initially deployed in the environment and take static positions at the ceiling. Each robot is equipped with a camera and only sees a portion of the area below. Each robot acts as a local planner: it calculates the part of the path relative to the area it sees, and exchanges information with its neighbors through a wireless connection. This way, the robot swarm realizes a cooperative distributed calculation of the path. The path is communicated to ground robots, which move the object. We introduce a number of strategies to improve the system’s performance in terms of scalability, resource efficiency, and robustness to alignment errors in the robot camera network. We report extensive simulation results that show the validity of our approach, considering a variety of object shapes and environments. © 2011 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Distributed motion planning for ground objects using a network of robotic ceiling cameras
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