Tag Archives: Useful For Teaching

Path planning by merging random sampling (RRT) with informed heuristics (A*)

Jonathan D Gammell, Timothy D Barfoot, Siddhartha S Srinivasa, Batch Informed Trees (BIT*): Informed asymptotically optimal anytime search, The International Journal of Robotics Research. 2020;39(5):543-567, DOI: 10.1177/0278364919890396.

Path planning in robotics often requires finding high-quality solutions to continuously valued and/or high-dimensional problems. These problems are challenging and most planning algorithms instead solve simplified approximations. Popular approximations include graphs and random samples, as used by informed graph-based searches and anytime sampling-based planners, respectively.

Informed graph-based searches, such as A*, traditionally use heuristics to search a priori graphs in order of potential solution quality. This makes their search efficient, but leaves their performance dependent on the chosen approximation. If the resolution of the chosen approximation is too low, then they may not find a (suitable) solution, but if it is too high, then they may take a prohibitively long time to do so.

Anytime sampling-based planners, such as RRT*, traditionally use random sampling to approximate the problem domain incrementally. This allows them to increase resolution until a suitable solution is found, but makes their search dependent on the order of approximation. Arbitrary sequences of random samples approximate the problem domain in every direction simultaneously, but may be prohibitively inefficient at containing a solution.

This article unifies and extends these two approaches to develop Batch Informed Trees (BIT*), an informed, anytime sampling-based planner. BIT* solves continuous path planning problems efficiently by using sampling and heuristics to alternately approximate and search the problem domain. Its search is ordered by potential solution quality, as in A*, and its approximation improves indefinitely with additional computational time, as in RRT*. It is shown analytically to be almost-surely asymptotically optimal and experimentally to outperform existing sampling-based planners, especially on high-dimensional planning problems.

On the formalization and conceptualization of real-time basic concepts and methods (RMS, EDF) for robots

Nicolas Gobillot, Charles Lesire, David Doose, A Design and Analysis Methodology for Component-Based Real-Time Architectures of Autonomous Systems. Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, October 2019, Volume 96, Issue 1, pp 123–138, DOI: 10.1007/s10846-018-0967-5.

The integration of autonomous robots in real applications is a challenge. It needs that the behaviour of these robots is proved to be safe. In this paper, we focus on the real-time software embedded on the robot, and that supports the execution of safe and autonomous behaviours. We propose a methodology that goes from the design of component-based software architectures using a Domain Specific Language, to the analysis of the real-time constraints that arise when considering the safety of software applications. This methodology is supported by a code generation toolchain that ensures that the code eventually executed on the robot is consistent with the analysis performed. This methodology is applied on a ground robot exploring an area.

A related work with a nice taxonomy of robot navigation algorithms

Eduardo J. Molinos, Ángel Llamazares, Manuel Ocaña Dynamic window based approaches for avoiding obstacles in moving, Robotics and Autonomous Systems,
Volume 118, 2019, Pages 112-130 DOI: 10.1016/j.robot.2019.05.003.

In recent years, Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) have been widely used as service robots. Unlike industrial robots, which are situated in fixed and controlled positions, UGVs work in dynamic environments, sharing the environment with other vehicles and humans. These robots should be able to move without colliding with any obstacle, assuring its integrity and the environment safety. In this paper, we propose two adaptations of the classical Dynamic Window algorithm for dealing with dynamic obstacles like Dynamic Window for Dynamic Obstacles (DW4DO) and Dynamic Window for Dynamic Obstacles Tree (DW4DOT). These new algorithms are compared with our previous algorithms based on Curvature Velocity Methods: Predicted Curvature Velocity Method (PCVM) and Dynamic Curvature Velocity Method (DCVM). Proposals have been validated in both simulated and real environment using several robotic platforms.

A nice introduction to psychological time

Lindsey Drayton, Moran Furman, Thy Mind, Thy Brain and Time, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, olume 22, Issue 10, 2018, Pages 841-843 DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2018.08.007.

The passage of time has fascinated the human mind for millennia. Tools for measuring time emerged early in civilization: lunar calendars appear in the archeological record as far back as 10 000 years ago and water clocks some 6000 years ago. Later technological innovations such as mechanical clocks, and more recently atomic clocks, have allowed the tracking of time with ever-increasing precision. And yet, arguably, the most sophisticated ‘time piece’ is the brain. Our brains can not only track the duration and succession of events, but they can also coordinate complex motor movements at striking levels of precision; communicate effectively by generating and interpreting sounds and speech; determine how to maximize rewards over time in the face of uncertainty; reflect upon the past; plan for the future; respond to temporal regularities and irregularities in the environment; and adapt to change in temporal scales that range from millisecond resolution up to evolutionary processes spanning millions of years.

A nice hybridization of RBPF, high-frequency scan matching and topological maps to perform SLAM, with an also nice state-of-the-art

Aristeidis G. Thallas, Emmanouil G. Tsardoulias, Loukas Petrou, Topological Based Scan Matching – Odometry Posterior Sampling in RBPF Under Kinematic Model Failures, Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, September 2018, Volume 91, Issue 3–4, pp 543–568, DOI: 10.1007/s10846-017-0730-3.

Rao-Blackwellized Particle Filters (RBPF) have been utilized to provide a solution to the SLAM problem. One of the main factors that cause RBPF failure is the potential particle impoverishment. Another popular approach to the SLAM problem are Scan Matching methods, whose good results require environments with lots of information, however fail in the lack thereof. To face these issues, in the current work techniques are presented to combine Rao-Blackwellized particle filters with a scan matching algorithm (CRSM SLAM). The particle filter maintains the correct hypothesis in environments lacking features and CRSM is employed in feature-rich environments while simultaneously reduces the particle filter dispersion. Since CRSM’s good performance is based on its high iteration frequency, a multi-threaded combination is presented which allows CRSM to operate while RBPF updates its particles. Additionally, a novel method utilizing topological information is proposed, in order to reduce the number of particle filter resamplings. Finally, we present methods to address anomalous situations where scan matching can not be performed and the vehicle displays behaviors not modeled by the kinematic model, causing the whole method to collapse. Numerous experiments are conducted to support the aforementioned methods’ advantages.

A unifying framework for path planning in real-time (mainly for UAVs) and a nice summary of the state-of-the-art in modern path planning

M. Murillo, G. SánchezL. GenzelisL. Giovanini, A Real-Time Path-Planning Algorithm based on Receding Horizon Techniques, Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, September 2018, Volume 91, Issue 3–4, pp 445–457, DOI: 10.1007/s10846-017-0740-1.

In this article we present a real-time path-planning algorithm that can be used to generate optimal and feasible paths for any kind of unmanned vehicle (UV). The proposed algorithm is based on the use of a simplified particle vehicle (PV) model, which includes the basic dynamics and constraints of the UV, and an iterated non-linear model predictive control (NMPC) technique that computes the optimal velocity vector (magnitude and orientation angles) that allows the PV to move toward desired targets. The computed paths are guaranteed to be feasible for any UV because: i) the PV is configured with similar characteristics (dynamics and physical constraints) as the UV, and ii) the feasibility of the optimization problem is guaranteed by the use of the iterated NMPC algorithm. As demonstration of the capabilities of the proposed path-planning algorithm, we explore several simulation examples in different scenarios. We consider the existence of static and dynamic obstacles and a follower condition.

On the use of flipped classroom for control engineering classes and its problem with the required (longer) time for learning

Y. Kim and C. Ahn, Effect of Combined Use of Flipped Learning and Inquiry-Based Learning on a System Modeling and Control Course, IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 61, no. 2, pp. 136-142, DOI: 10.1109/TE.2017.2774194.

Contribution: This paper illustrates how to design and implement curricula in terms of the combined use of flipped learning and inquiry-based learning in an engineering course. Background: Elementary courses in engineering schools are conventional and foundational, and involve a considerable amount of knowledge. Throughout such courses, students are also expected to develop insight, which cannot be obtained by only listening to instructors. Having relevant discussions is also difficult for most instructors. Intended Outcomes: The combined use of flipped learning and inquiry-based learning would be beneficial to broaden student achievement. Application Design: Based on an epistemological approach about knowledge and knowing, this paper applies the combined use of flipped learning and inquiry-based learning to enhance student knowledge and advance ways of thinking on a System Modeling and Control course. Findings: The extended learning time and the collective responsibility for learning are discussed as critical issues in applying the combined use of flipped learning and inquiry-based learning in an engineering school.

A microprocessor designed for real-time predictability and short WCETs

Schoeberl, M., Puffitsch, W., Hepp, S. et al, Patmos: a time-predictable microprocessor, Real-Time Syst (2018) 54: 389, DOI: 10.1007/s11241-018-9300-4.

Current processors provide high average-case performance, as they are optimized for general purpose computing. However, those optimizations often lead to a high worst-case execution time (WCET). WCET analysis tools model the architectural features that increase average-case performance. To keep analysis complexity manageable, those models need to abstract from implementation details. This abstraction further increases the WCET bound. This paper presents a way out of this dilemma: a processor designed for real-time systems. We design and optimize a processor, called Patmos, for low WCET bounds rather than for high average-case performance. Patmos is a dual-issue, statically scheduled RISC processor. A method cache serves as the cache for the instructions and a split cache organization simplifies the WCET analysis of the data cache. To fill the dual-issue pipeline with enough useful instructions, Patmos relies on a customized compiler. The compiler also plays a central role in optimizing the application for the WCET instead of average-case performance.

An interesting simulation educational software for control systems engineering based on controlling a quadrotor

S. Khan, M. H. Jaffery, A. Hanif and M. R. Asif, Teaching Tool for a Control Systems Laboratory Using a Quadrotor as a Plant in MATLAB, IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 60, no. 4, pp. 249-256, DOI: 10.1109/TE.2017.2653762.

This paper presents a MATLAB-based application to teach the guidance, navigation, and control concepts of a quadrotor to undergraduate students, using a graphical user interface (GUI) and 3-D animations. The Simulink quadrotor model is controlled by a proportional integral derivative controller and a linear quadratic regulator controller. The GUI layout’s many components can be easily programmed to perform various experiments by considering the simulation of the quadrotor as a plant; it incorporates control systems (CS) fundamentals such as time domain response, transfer function and state-space form, pole-zero location, root locus, frequency domain response, steady-state error, position and disturbance response, controller design and tuning, unity, and the use of a Kalman filter as a feedback sensor. 3-D animations are used to display the quadrotor flying in any given condition selected by the user. For each simulation, users can view the output response in the form of 3-D animations, and can run time plots. The quadrotor educational tool (QET) helps students in the CS laboratory understand basic CS concepts. The QET was evaluated based on student feedback, grades, satisfaction, and interest in CS.

A theoretical framework based on hybrid models and logical verification to prove the guarantees for obstacle avoidance in mobile robot navigation

Stefan Mitsch, Khalil Ghorbal, David Vogelbacher, and André Platzer, Formal verification of obstacle avoidance and navigation of ground robots, The International Journal of Robotics Research Vol 36, Issue 12, pp. 1312 – 1340, DOI: 0.1177/0278364917733549.

This article answers fundamental safety questions for ground robot navigation: under which circumstances does which control decision make a ground robot safely avoid obstacles? Unsurprisingly, the answer depends on the exact formulation of the safety objective, as well as the physical capabilities and limitations of the robot and the obstacles. Because uncertainties about the exact future behavior of a robot’s environment make this a challenging problem, we formally verify corresponding controllers and provide rigorous safety proofs justifying why the robots can never collide with the obstacle in the respective physical model. To account for ground robots in which different physical phenomena are important, we analyze a series of increasingly strong properties of controllers for increasingly rich dynamics and identify the impact that the additional model parameters have on the required safety margins. We analyze and formally verify: (i) static safety, which ensures that no collisions can happen with stationary obstacles; (ii) passive safety, which ensures that no collisions can happen with stationary or moving obstacles while the robot moves; (iii) the stronger passive-friendly safety, in which the robot further maintains sufficient maneuvering distance for obstacles to avoid collision as well; and (iv) passive orientation safety, which allows for imperfect sensor coverage of the robot, i.e., the robot is aware that not everything in its environment will be visible. We formally prove that safety can be guaranteed despite sensor uncertainty and actuator perturbation. We complement these provably correct safety properties with liveness properties: we prove that provably safe motion is flexible enough to let the robot navigate waypoints and pass intersections. To account for the mixed influence of discrete control decisions and the continuous physical motion of the ground robot, we develop corresponding hybrid system models and use differential dynamic logic theorem-proving techniques to formally verify their correctness. Since these models identify a broad range of conditions under which control decisions are provably safe, our results apply to any control algorithm for ground robots with the same dynamics. As a demonstration, we also synthesize provably correct runtime monitor conditions that check the compliance of any control algorithm with the verified control decisions.