Using interpolation to improve path planning: The Field D* algorithm



We present an interpolation-based planning and replanning algorithm for generating low-cost paths through uniform and nonuniform resolution grids. Most grid-based path planners use discrete state transitions that artificially constrain an agent's motion to a small set of possible headings (e.g., 0, π/4, π/2, etc.). As a result, even “optimal” grid-based planners produce unnatural, suboptimal paths. Our approach uses linear interpolation during planning to calculate accurate path cost estimates for arbitrary positions within each grid cell and produce paths with a range of continuous headings. Consequently, it is particularly well suited to planning low-cost trajectories for mobile robots. In this paper, we introduce a version of the algorithm for uniform resolution grids and a version for nonuniform resolution grids. Together, these approaches address two of the most significant shortcomings of grid-based path planning: the quality of the paths produced and the memory and computational requirements of planning over grids. We demonstrate our approaches on a number of example planning problems, compare them to related algorithms, and present several implementations on real robotic systems.