A novel algorithm for coverage path planning with very strong guarantees

J. Song and S. Gupta, $varepsilon ^{star }$: An Online Coverage Path Planning Algorithm, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 526-533, DOI: 10.1109/TRO.2017.2780259.

This paper presents an algorithm called ε*, for online coverage path planning of unknown environment. The algorithm is built upon the concept of an Exploratory Turing Machine (ETM), which acts as a supervisor to the autonomous vehicle to guide it with adaptive navigation commands. The ETM generates a coverage path online using Multiscale Adaptive Potential Surfaces (MAPS), which are hierarchically structured and dynamically updated based on sensor information. The ε*-algorithm is computationally efficient, guarantees complete coverage, and does not suffer from the local extrema problem. Its performance is validated by 1) high-fidelity simulations on Player/Stage and 2) actual experiments in a laboratory setting on autonomous vehicles.

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