Reactive Navigation of an Autonomous Ground Vehicle Using Dynamic Expanding Zones
Putney, Joseph Satoru
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Autonomous navigation of mobile robots through unstructured terrain presents many challenges. The task becomes even more difficult with increasing obstacle density, at higher speeds, and when a priori knowledge of the terrain is not available. Reactive navigation schemas are often dismissed as overly simplistic or considered to be inferior to deliberative approaches for off-road navigation. The Potential Field algorithm has been a popular reactive approach for low speed, highly maneuverable mobile robots. However, as vehicle speeds increase, Potential Fields becomes less effective at avoiding obstacles. The traditional shortcomings of the Potential Field approach can be largely overcome by using dynamically expanding perception zones to help track objects of immediate interest. This newly developed technique is hereafter referred to as the Dynamic Expanding Zones (DEZ) algorithm. In this approach, the Potential Field algorithm is used for waypoint navigation and the DEZ algorithm is used for obstacle avoidance. This combination of methods facilitates high-speed navigation in obstaclerich environments at a fraction of the computational cost and complexity of deliberative methods. The DEZ reactive navigation algorithm is believed to represent a fundamental contribution to the body of knowledge in the area of high-speed reactive navigation. This method was implemented on the Virginia Tech DARPA Grand Challenge vehicles. The results of this implementation are presented as a case study to demonstrate the efficacy of the newly developed DEZ approach.
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