Robot Obstacle Avoidance in n-Dimensional Space Using Planar Harmonic Artificial Potential Fields

[+] Author and Article Information
Jürgen Guldner

DLR, Institute for Robotics & System Dynamics, Postfach 1116, D-82230 Wessling, Germany

Vadim I. Utkin

Department of Electrical Engineering, The Ohio State University, 2015 Neil Ave, Columbus, OH 43210-1275

Hideki Hashimoto

University of Tokyo, Inst. for Industrial Science, 7-22-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106, Japan

J. Dyn. Sys., Meas., Control 119(2), 160-166 (Jun 01, 1997) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2801228 History: Received July 05, 1995; Online December 03, 2007


Autonomous operation of robots requires on-line obstacle avoidance. A wide-spread tool for obstacle avoidance, employed both for mobile robots and for manipulator arms, is the artificial potential field method. This paper extends previous results for planar problems to the general n-dimensional case. A significant decrease in computational complexity is achieved by projecting the n-dimensional workspace into a two-dimensional subspace called the operation plane. Furthermore, only the closest obstacle is taken into account when designing the artificial potential field. The effects of the required switching between potential fields of different obstacles are examined using sliding mode theory. A tracking controller is presented which allows exact following of the gradient of the artificial potential field. The methodology is illustrated with several numerical examples.

Copyright © 1997 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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