Vehicle path-planning in three dimensions using optics analogs for optimizing visibility and energy cost
Rowe, Neil C.
Lewis, David H.
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Path planning is an important issue for space robotics. Finding safe and energy-efficient paths in the presence of obstacles and other constraints can be complex although important. We have been investigating high-level (large-scale) path planning for robotic vehicles in three-dimensional space with obstacles, accounting for (1) energy costs proportional to path length, (2) turn costs where paths change trajectory abruptly, and (3) "safety costs" for the danger associated with traversing a particular path due to visibility or invisibility from a fixed set of observers. We find paths optimal with respect to these cost factors. We have in mind autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles operating either in a space environment around satellites and space platforms, or aircraft, spacecraft, or smart missiles operating just above lunar and planetary surfaces. One class of applications concerns minimizing detection, as for example determining the best way to make complex modifications to a satellite without being observed by hostile sensors; another example is verifying there are no paths ("holes") through a space defense system. Another class of applications concerns maximizing detection, as finding a good trajectory between mountain ranges of a planet while staying reasonably close to the surface, or finding paths for a flight between two locations that maximize the average number of "landmark" points visible at any time along the path (to minimize the chance of straying from the best path).
This paper is to appear in the Proceedings of the NASA Conference on Space Telerobotics, January 1989, Pasadena CA.Distinguished Alumni Award Program author. Rear Admiral David H. Lewis, U.S. Navy, Commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) (Presented 25 March 2015)
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