Taking into account the way a path serves to avoid obstacles in order to improve the three main methods of robot path planning: graph-search, probabilistic and bug

Emili Hernandez, Marc Carreras, Pere Ridao, A comparison of homotopic path planning algorithms for robotic applications , Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Volume 64, February 2015, Pages 44-58, ISSN 0921-8890, DOI: 10.1016/j.robot.2014.10.021


This paper addresses the path planning problem for robotic applications using homotopy classes. These classes provide a topological description of how paths avoid obstacles, which is an added value to the path planning problem. Homotopy classes are generated and sorted according to a lower bound heuristic estimator using a method we developed. Then, the classes are used to constrain and guide path planning algorithms. Three different path planners are presented and compared: a graph-search algorithm called Homotopic A∗ (HA∗), a probabilistic sample-based algorithm called Homotopic RRT (HRRT), and a bug-based algorithm called Homotopic Bug (HBug). Our method has been tested in simulation and in an underwater bathymetric map to compute the trajectory of an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV). A comparison with well-known path planning algorithms has also been included. Results show that our homotopic path planners improve the quality of the solutions of their respective non-homotopic versions with similar computation time while keeping the topological constraints.

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