Coping with Uncertainty in a Control System for Navigation and Exploration

Thomas Dean, Kenneth Basye, Robert Chekaluk, Seungseok Hyun, Moises Lejter, Margaret Randazza

A significant problem in designing mobile robot control systems involves coping with the uncertainty that arises in moving about in an unknown or partially unknown environment and relying on noisy or ambiguous sensor data to acquire knowledge about that environment. We describe a control system that chooses what activity to engage in next on the basis of expectations about how the information returned as a result of a given activity will improve its knowledge about the spatial layout of its environment. Certain of the higher-level components of the control system are specified in terms of probabilistic decision models whose output is used to mediate the behavior of lower-level control components responsible for movement and sensing. The control system is capable of directing the behavior of the robot in the exploration and mapping of its environment, while attending to the real-time requirements of navigation and obstacle avoidance.

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