Development of a Real-Time Hierarchical 3D Path Planning Algorithm for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Solomon, Matthew David
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Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) frequently operate in partially or entirely unknown environments. As the vehicle traverses the environment and detects new obstacles, rapid path replanning is essential to avoid collisions. This thesis presents a new algorithm called Hierarchical D* Lite (HD*), which combines the incremental algorithm D* Lite with a novel hierarchical path planning approach to replan paths sufficiently fast for real-time operation. Unlike current hierarchical planning algorithms, HD* does not require map corrections before planning a new path. Directional cost scale factors, path smoothing, and Catmull-Rom splines are used to ensure the resulting paths are feasible. HD* sacrifices optimality for real-time performance. Its computation time and path quality are dependent on the map size, obstacle density, sensor range, and any restrictions on planning time. For the most complex scenarios tested, HD* found paths within 10% of optimal in under 35 milliseconds.