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The Planner Ensemble: Motion Planning by Executing Diverse Algorithms

Sanjiban Choudhury, Sankalp Arora and Sebastian Scherer
Conference Paper, Carnegie Mellon University, IEEE Conference on Robotics and Automation, May, 2015

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Autonomous systems that navigate in unknown environments encounter a variety of planning problems. The success of any one particular planning strategy depends on the validity of assumptions it leverages about the structure of the problem, e.g., Is the cost map locally convex? Does the feasible state space have good connectivity? We address the problem of determining suitable motion planning strategies that can work on a diverse set of applications. We have developed a planning system that does this by running competing planners in parallel. In this paper, we present an approach that constructs a planner ensemble – a set of complementary planners that lever- age a diverse set of assumptions. Our approach optimizes the submodular selection criteria with a greedy approach and lazy evaluation. We seed our selection with learnt priors on planner performance, thus allowing us to solve new applications without evaluating every planner on that application. We present results in simulation where the selected ensemble outperforms the best single planner and does almost as well as an off-line planner. We also present results from an autonomous helicopter that has flown missions several kilometers long at speeds of up to 56m/s which involved avoiding unmapped mountains, no-fly zones and landing in cluttered areas with trees and buildings. This work opens the door on the more general problem of adaptive motion planning.

BibTeX Reference
title = {The Planner Ensemble: Motion Planning by Executing Diverse Algorithms},
author = {Sanjiban Choudhury and Sankalp Arora and Sebastian Scherer},
booktitle = {IEEE Conference on Robotics and Automation},
school = {Robotics Institute , Carnegie Mellon University},
month = {May},
year = {2015},
address = {Pittsburgh, PA},