Mobile Robot Navigation Using Potential Functions

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1989

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This thesis presents a method to construct a smooth obstacle free path for a mobile robot on which to navigate. The first step is to assign potential functions to each obstacle and the goal. Then, the gradient system constructed by the gradient of the sum of the above functions generates the desired path. The construction is analytically proven to produce obstacle free paths to the goal for an environment whose obstacles can be approximated by disks. The procedure does not require complete information on the position of the obstacles beforehand, as long as they can be detected and approximated by disks. The algorithm presented shows a computationally simple way to construct paths and a systematic method to encode the geometric data about the environment into a smooth vector field, which is used for mobile robot navigation.

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