Experience-driven optimal motion synthesis in complex and shared environments [article]

Wolfgang Xaver Merkt, Michael Mistry, Sethu Vijayakumar, University Of Edinburgh, University Of Edinburgh
Optimal loco-manipulation planning and control for high-dimensional systems based on general, non-linear optimisation allows for the specification of versatile motion subject to complex constraints. However, complex, non-linear system and environment dynamics, switching contacts, and collision avoidance in cluttered environments introduce non-convexity and discontinuity in the optimisation space. This renders finding optimal solutions in complex and changing environments an open and challenging
more » ... pen and challenging problem in robotics. Global optimisation methods can take a prohibitively long time to converge. Slow convergence makes them unsuitable for live deployment and online re-planning of motion policies in response to changes in the task or environment. Local optimisation techniques, in contrast, converge fast within the basin of attraction of a minimum but may not converge at all without a good initial guess as they can easily get stuck in local minima. Local methods are, therefore, a suitable choice provided we can supply a good initial guess. If a similarity between problems can be found and exploited, a memory of optimal solutions can be computed and compressed efficiently in an offline computation process. During runtime, we can query this memory to bootstrap motion synthesis by providing a good initial seed to the local optimisation solver. In order to realise such a system, we need to address several connected problems and questions: First, the formulation of the optimisation problem (and its parametrisation to allow solutions to transfer to new scenarios), and related, the type and granularity of user input, along with a strategy for recovery and feedback in case of unexpected changes or failure. Second, a sampling strategy during the database/memory generation that explores the parameter space efficiently without resorting to exhaustive measures---i.e., to balance storage size/memory with online runtime to adapt/repair the initial guess. Third, the question of how to represent the problem and environment to parametrise [...]
doi:10.7488/era/358 fatcat:j7xbw3o3sffd5cb54gvjvbh5q4