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Time-optimal planning for quadrotor waypoint flight


Foehn, Philipp; Romero, Angel; Scaramuzza, Davide (2021). Time-optimal planning for quadrotor waypoint flight. Science Robotics, 6(56):34-38.

Abstract

Quadrotors are among the most agile flying robots. However, planning time-optimal trajectories at the actuation limit through multiple waypoints remains an open problem. This is crucial for applications such as inspection, delivery, search and rescue, and drone racing. Early works used polynomial trajectory formulations, which do not exploit the full actuator potential because of their inherent smoothness. Recent works resorted to numerical optimization but require waypoints to be allocated as costs or constraints at specific discrete times. However, this time allocation is a priori unknown and renders previous works incapable of producing truly time-optimal trajectories. To generate truly time-optimal trajectories, we propose a solution to the time allocation problem while exploiting the full quadrotor’s actuator potential. We achieve this by introducing a formulation of progress along the trajectory, which enables the simultaneous optimization of the time allocation and the trajectory itself. We compare our method against related approaches and validate it in real-world flights in one of the world’s largest motion-capture systems, where we outperform human expert drone pilots in a drone-racing task.

Abstract

Quadrotors are among the most agile flying robots. However, planning time-optimal trajectories at the actuation limit through multiple waypoints remains an open problem. This is crucial for applications such as inspection, delivery, search and rescue, and drone racing. Early works used polynomial trajectory formulations, which do not exploit the full actuator potential because of their inherent smoothness. Recent works resorted to numerical optimization but require waypoints to be allocated as costs or constraints at specific discrete times. However, this time allocation is a priori unknown and renders previous works incapable of producing truly time-optimal trajectories. To generate truly time-optimal trajectories, we propose a solution to the time allocation problem while exploiting the full quadrotor’s actuator potential. We achieve this by introducing a formulation of progress along the trajectory, which enables the simultaneous optimization of the time allocation and the trajectory itself. We compare our method against related approaches and validate it in real-world flights in one of the world’s largest motion-capture systems, where we outperform human expert drone pilots in a drone-racing task.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Informatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Mechanical Engineering
Physical Sciences > Computer Science Applications
Physical Sciences > Control and Optimization
Physical Sciences > Artificial Intelligence
Scope:Discipline-based scholarship (basic research)
Language:English
Date:21 July 2021
Deposited On:20 Oct 2021 09:28
Last Modified:25 Apr 2024 01:40
Publisher:American Association for the Advancement of Science
ISSN:2470-9476
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1126/scirobotics.abh1221
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:21590