RI: Small: Sampling Based Feedback Motion Planners
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This project, developing robust and computationally intelligent randomized sampling based feedback motion planning techniques for constrained systems operating under "process" and "sensing" uncertainty, addresses an important research area for real-world systems. Such motion planning techniques are valuable because the high computational burden of these problems makes the solution of such problems intractable for anything but the simplest low dimensional systems. In particular, one of the most fundamental requirement of robots is that they operate in a safe, efficient and autonomous fashion in the presence of such uncertainty. Thus, a principled set of computationally intelligent techniques, with guaranteed performance, is required. This proposed work will generalize the Probabilistic RoadMap technique (PRM) of robotic path planning shall such that the roadmap construction incorporates both process and sensing uncertainty. This will result in a computationally tractable solution technique for a large class of constrained Markov Decision Problems (MDP) and Partially Observed MDPs (POMDP), known as constrained stochastic shortest path problems, along with guaranteed performance of the planners in terms of a probability of success.Broader Impacts: The ability to solve high dimensional constrained MDP and POMDP problems in a computationally tractable fashion will have significant impact on multiple different robotic applications including robotic operations in hazardous environments such as disaster areas and battlefields, surgical robotics, prosthetics and unmanned planetary exploration. The impact of such computationally intelligent solution techniques cannot be overstated due to the ubiquitous nature of MDPs and POMDPs, which are fundamental decision making problems inherent in myriad different fields ranging from Engineering through Economics to Biology. The assimilation of K-12/undergraduate/graduate students, with a focus on underrepresented minorities, with high school teachers in projects related to the research, through experiments and demonstrations related to the research at the annual "TAMU Physics and Engineering fair", and the annual department "summer camp" for high school students and their parents, will disseminate the results of the project to a broad audience.