Robotics: Science and Systems III

The Stochastic Motion Roadmap: A Sampling Framework for Planning with Markov Motion Uncertainty

Ron Alterovitz, Thierry Simeon, and Ken Goldberg

Abstract: We present a new motion planning framework that explicitly considers uncertainty in robot motion to maximize the probability of avoiding collisions and successfully reaching a goal. In many motion planning applications ranging from maneuvering vehicles over unfamiliar terrain to steering flexible medical needles through human tissue, the response of a robot to commanded actions cannot be precisely predicted. We propose to build a roadmap by sampling collision-free states in the configuration space and then locally sampling motions at each state to estimate state transition probabilities for each possible action. Given a query specifying initial and goal configurations, we use the roadmap to formulate a Markov Decision Process (MDP), which we solve using Infinite Horizon Dynamic Programming in polynomial time to compute stochastically optimal plans. The Stochastic Motion Roadmap (SMR) thus combines a sampling-based roadmap representation of the configuration space, as in PRM's, with the well-established theory of MDP's. Generating both states and transition probabilities by sampling is far more flexible than previous Markov motion planning approaches based on problem-specific or grid-based discretizations. We demonstrate the SMR framework by applying it to non-holonomic steerable needles, a new class of medical needles that follow curved paths through soft tissue, and confirm that SMR's generate motion plans with significantly higher probabilities of success compared to traditional shortest-path plans.



@INPROCEEDINGS{ Alterovitz-RSS-07,
    AUTHOR    = {R. Alterovitz and T. Simeon and K. Goldberg},
    TITLE     = {The Stochastic Motion Roadmap: A Sampling Framework for Planning with Markov Motion Uncertainty},
    BOOKTITLE = {Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems},
    YEAR      = {2007},
    ADDRESS   = {Atlanta, GA, USA},
    MONTH     = {June},
    DOI       = {10.15607/RSS.2007.III.030}