Qualitative robot navigation

Sergio Miguel-Tomé, Navigation through unknown and dynamic open spaces using topological notions, Connection Science, DOI: 10.1080/09540091.2016.1277691.

Until now, most algorithms used for navigation have had the purpose of directing system towards one point in space. However, humans communicate tasks by specifying spatial relations among elements or places. In addition, the environments in which humans develop their activities are extremely dynamic. The only option that allows for successful navigation in dynamic and unknown environments is making real-time decisions. Therefore, robots capable of collaborating closely with human beings must be able to make decisions based on the local information registered by the sensors and interpret and express spatial relations. Furthermore, when one person is asked to perform a task in an environment, this task is communicated given a category of goals so the person does not need to be supervised. Thus, two problems appear when one wants to create multifunctional robots: how to navigate in dynamic and unknown environments using spatial relations and how to accomplish this without supervision. In this article, a new architecture to address the two cited problems is presented, called the topological qualitative navigation architecture. In previous works, a qualitative heuristic called the heuristic of topological qualitative semantics (HTQS) has been developed to establish and identify spatial relations. However, that heuristic only allows for establishing one spatial relation with a specific object. In contrast, navigation requires a temporal sequence of goals with different objects. The new architecture attains continuous generation of goals and resolves them using HTQS. Thus, the new architecture achieves autonomous navigation in dynamic or unknown open environments.

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