Robot Motion Planning and Control requires interdisciplinarity

Description : 

          The research in robot motion planning can be traced back to the late 60's, during the early stages of the development of computer-controlled robots. Nevertheless, most of the effort is more recent and has been conducted during the 80's (Robot Motion Planning, J.C. Latombe's book constitutes the reference in
the domain). The position (configuration) of a robot is normally described by a number of variables. For mobile robots these typically are the position and orientation of the robot (i.e. 3 variables in the plane). For articulated robots (robot arms) these variables are the positions of the different joints of the robot arm. A motion for
a robot can, hence, be considered as a path in the configuration space. Such a path should remain in the subspace of configurations in which there is no collision between the robot and the obstacles, the so-called free space. The motion planning problem asks for determining such a path through the free space in an efficient way. Motion planning can be split into two classes.
           When all degrees of freedom can be changed independently (like in a fully actuated arm) we talk about hotonomic motion planning. In this case, the existence of a collision-free path is characterized by the existence of a connected component in the free configuration space. In this context, motion planning consists in building the free configuration space, and in finding a path in its connected components. Within the 80's, Roboticians addressed the problem by devising a variety of heuristics and approximate methods. Such methods decompose the configuration space into simple cells lying inside, partially inside or outside the free space. A collision-free path is then searched by exploring the adjacency graph of free cells.
          The purpose of this book is not to present a current state of the art in motion planning and control. We have chosen to emphasize on recent issues which have been developed within the 90's. In this sense, it completes Latombe's book published in 1991. Moreover an objective of this book is to illustrate the necessary interdisciplinarity of the domain: the authors come from Robotics, Computational Geometry, Control Theory and Mathematics. All of them share a common understanding of the robotic problem. The chapters cover recent and fruitful results in motion planning and control. Four of them deal with nonholonomic systems; another one is dedicated to probabilistic algorithms; the last one addresses collision detection, a critical operation in algorithmic motion planning.