Deeply Informed Neural Sampling for Robot Motion Planning

Ahmed H. Qureshi and Michael C. Yip

University of California, San Diego


Sampling-based Motion Planners (SMPs) have become increasingly popular as they provide collision-free path solutions regardless of obstacle geometry in a given environment. However, their computational complexity increases significantly with the dimensionality of the motion planning problem. Adaptive sampling is one of the ways to speed up SMPs by sampling a particular region of a configuration space that is more likely to contain an optimal path solution. Although there are a wide variety of algorithms for adaptive sampling, they rely on hand-crafted heuristics; furthermore, their performance decreases significantly in high-dimensional spaces. In this paper, we present a neural network-based adaptive sampler for motion planning called Deep Sampling-based Motion Planner (DeepSMP). DeepSMP generates samples for SMPs and enhances their overall speed significantly while exhibiting efficient scalability to higher-dimensional problems. DeepSMP's neural architecture comprises of a Contractive AutoEncoder which encodes given workspaces directly from a raw point cloud data, and a Dropout-based stochastic deep feedforward neural network which takes the workspace encoding, start and goal configuration, and iteratively generates feasible samples for SMPs to compute end-to-end collision-free optimal paths. DeepSMP is not only consistently computationally efficient in all tested environments but has also shown remarkable generalization to completely unseen environments. We evaluate DeepSMP on multiple planning problems including planning of a point-mass robot, rigid-body, 6-link robotic manipulator in various 2D and 3D environments. The results show that on average our method is at least 7 times faster in point-mass and rigid-body case and about 28 times faster in 6-link robot case than the existing state-of-the-art.

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DeepSMP planning motion for 6-DOF Universal Robot

Following video shows the planning of a 6 DOF manipulator by DeepSMP. The shadowed region indicates the target configuration while the yellow objects indicate the obstacles to avoid.

DeepSMP planning motion of a point-mass robot in simple 2D environments

DeepSMP planning motion of a point-mass robot in complex 2D environments

DeepSMP planning motion of a point-mass robot in complex 3D environments