Reactive Magnetic-field-inspired Navigation Method for Robots in Unknown Convex 3D Environments

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With a shift in current robotics application from known, well-defined environments towards unknown environments, the robot’s ability to avoid unknown obstacles in real-time whilst relying on limited information about spatial constraints in its path becomes essential. Taking inspiration from the laws
of electromagnetism, we present a novel navigation method, whereby the moving robot induces an artificial electric current onto the obstacle surface generating, in turn, a magnetic field guiding the robot along the obstacle’s boundary without affecting its kinetic energy. Our method has several advantages over existing methods: 1) it guides point-like robots towards the goal without suffering from local minima in 3D environments populated with convex obstacles, 2) it does not need any prior knowledge of obstacle positions and geometries, 3) it only requires environmental sensor information that is spatially and temporally local to generate motion commands iteratively. Our navigation method is tested in simulations and experiments, showing that a point-to-point navigation of point-like robots and the end effector of the Baxter’s arm has been successfully achieved in a collision-free manner towards a goal position in a 3D environment populated with unknown convex obstacles.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Jun 2018


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