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Troy McMahon, Shawna L. Thomas, Nancy M. Amato, "Sampling Based Motion Planning with Reachable Volumes: Application to Manipulators and Closed Chain Systems," In Proc. IEEE Int. Conf. Intel. Rob. Syst. (IROS), Sep 2014.
Proceedings(pdf, abstract)

Reachable volumes are a geometric representation of the regions the joints of a robot can reach. They can be used to generate constraint satisfying samples for problems including complicated linkage robots (e.g. closed chains and graspers). They can also be used to assist robot operators and to help in robot design. We show that reachable volumes have an O(1) complexity in unconstrained problems as well as in many constrained problems. We also show that reachable volumes can be computed in linear time and that reachable volume samples can be generated in linear time in problems without constraints. We experimentally validate reachable volume sampling, both with and without constraints on end effectors and/or internal joints. We show that reachable volume samples are less likely to be invalid due to self collisions, making reachable volume sampling significantly more efficient for higher dimensional problems. We also show that these samples are easier to connect than others, resulting in better connected roadmaps. We demonstrate that our method can be applied to 262-dof, multi loop, and tree-like linkages including combinations of planar, prismatic and spherical joints. In contrast, existing methods either cannot be used for these problems or do not produce good quality solutions.