Representation is important

When studying combinatorial motion planning algorithms, it is important to carefully consider the definition of the input. What is the representation used for the robot and obstacles? What set of transformations may be applied to the robot? What is the dimension of the world? Are the robot and obstacles convex? Are they piecewise linear? The specification of possible inputs defines a set of problem instances on which the algorithm will operate. If the instances have certain convenient properties (e.g., low dimensionality, convex models), then a combinatorial algorithm may provide an elegant, practical solution. If the set of instances is too broad, then a requirement of both completeness and practical solutions may be unreasonable. Many general formulations of general motion planning problems are PSPACE-hard6.1; therefore, such a hope appears unattainable. Nevertheless, there exist general, complete motion planning algorithms. Note that focusing on the representation is the opposite philosophy from sampling-based planning, which hides these issues in the collision detection module.

Steven M LaValle 2012-04-20