Toward Dynamical Sensor Management for Reactive Wall-following

We propose a new paradigm for reactive wallfollowing by a planar robot taking the form of an actively steered sensor model that augments the robot’s motion dynamics. We postulate a foveated sensor capable of delivering third-order infinitesimal (range, tangent, and curvature) data at a point along a wall (modeled as an unknown smooth plane curve) specified by the angle of the ray from the robot’s body that first intersects it. We develop feedback policies for the coupled (point or unicycle) sensorimotor system that drive the sensor’s foveal angle as a function of the instantaneous infinitesimal data, in accord with the trade-off between a desired standoff and progress-rate as the wall’s curvature varies unpredictably in the manner of an unmodeled noise signal. We prove that in any neighborhood within which the thirdorder infinitesimal data accurately predicts the local “shape” of the wall, neither robot will ever hit it. We empirically demonstrate with comparative physical studies that the new active sensor management strategy yields superior average tracking performance and avoids catastrophic collisions or wall losses relative to the passive sensor variant.

This work was supported by AFOSR MURI FA9550–10–1−0567.

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