Robot motion planning on N-dimensional star worlds among moving obstacles

Robert A. Conn, Moshe Kam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Inspired by an idea of Rimon and Koditschek [1], we develop a motion planning algorithm for a point robot traveling among moving obstacles in an N-dimensional space. The navigating point must meet a goal point at a fixed time T, while avoiding several translating, nonrotating, nonintersecting obstacles on its way. All obstacles, the goal point, and the navigating point are confined to the interior of a star-shaped set in RN over the time interval [0, T]. Full a priori knowledge of the goal's location and of the obstacle's trajectories is assumed. We observe that the topology of the obstacle-free space is invariant in the time interval [0, T] as long as the obstacles are nonintersecting and as long as they do not cover the goal point at any time during [0, T]. Using this fact we reduce the problem, for any fixed time to ∈ [0, T], to a stationary-obstacle problem, which is then solved using the method of Rimon and Koditschek [1]. The fact that the obstacle-free space is topologically invariant allows a solution to the moving-obstacle problem over [0, T] through a continuous deformation of the stationary-obstacle solution obtained at time t0. We construct a vector field whose flow is in fact one such deformation. We believe that ours is the first global solution to the moving-obstacle path-planning problem which uses vector fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-325
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Motion planning
  • Moving obstacles
  • Vector fields


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