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Publication# Reactive collision-free motion generation in joint space via dynamical systems and sampling-based MPC

Abstract

Dynamical system (DS) based motion planning offers collision-free motion, with closed-loop reactivity thanks to their analytical expression. It ensures that obstacles are not penetrated by reshaping a nominal DS through matrix modulation, which is constructed using continuously differentiable obstacle representations. However, state-of-the-art approaches may suffer from local minima induced by non-convex obstacles, thus failing to scale to complex, high-dimensional joint spaces. On the other hand, sampling-based Model Predictive Control (MPC) techniques provide feasible collision-free paths in joint-space, yet are limited to quasi-reactive scenarios due to computational complexity that grows cubically with space dimensionality and horizon length. To control the robot in the cluttered environment with moving obstacles, and to generate feasible and highly reactive collision-free motion in robots' joint space, we present an approach for modulating joint-space DS using sampling-based MPC. Specifically, a nominal DS representing an unconstrained desired joint space motion to a target is locally deflected with obstacle-tangential velocity components navigating the robot around obstacles and avoiding local minima. Such tangential velocity components are constructed from receding horizon collision-free paths generated asynchronously by the sampling-based MPC. Notably, the MPC is not required to run constantly, but only activated when the local minima is detected. The approach is validated in simulation and real-world experiments on a 7-DoF robot demonstrating the capability of avoiding concave obstacles, while maintaining local attractor stability in both quasi-static and highly dynamic cluttered environments.

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Dynamical system

In mathematics, a dynamical system is a system in which a function describes the time dependence of a point in an ambient space, such as in a parametric curve. Examples include the mathematical models that describe the swinging of a clock pendulum, the flow of water in a pipe, the random motion of particles in the air, and the number of fish each springtime in a lake. The most general definition unifies several concepts in mathematics such as ordinary differential equations and ergodic theory by allowing different choices of the space and how time is measured.

Dynamical systems theory

Dynamical systems theory is an area of mathematics used to describe the behavior of complex dynamical systems, usually by employing differential equations or difference equations. When differential equations are employed, the theory is called continuous dynamical systems. From a physical point of view, continuous dynamical systems is a generalization of classical mechanics, a generalization where the equations of motion are postulated directly and are not constrained to be Euler–Lagrange equations of a least action principle.

Computational complexity

In computer science, the computational complexity or simply complexity of an algorithm is the amount of resources required to run it. Particular focus is given to computation time (generally measured by the number of needed elementary operations) and memory storage requirements. The complexity of a problem is the complexity of the best algorithms that allow solving the problem. The study of the complexity of explicitly given algorithms is called analysis of algorithms, while the study of the complexity of problems is called computational complexity theory.

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