NEPTUNE: Nonentangling Trajectory Planning for Multiple Tethered Unmanned Vehicles

3 Dec 2022  ·  Muqing Cao, Kun Cao, Shenghai Yuan, Thien-Minh Nguyen, Lihua Xie ·

Despite recent progress on trajectory planning of multiple robots and path planning of a single tethered robot, planning of multiple tethered robots to reach their individual targets without entanglements remains a challenging problem. In this paper, we present a complete approach to address this problem. Firstly, we propose a multi-robot tether-aware representation of homotopy, using which we can efficiently evaluate the feasibility and safety of a potential path in terms of (1) the cable length required to reach a target following the path, and (2) the risk of entanglements with the cables of other robots. Then, the proposed representation is applied in a decentralized and online planning framework that includes a graph-based kinodynamic trajectory finder and an optimization-based trajectory refinement, to generate entanglement-free, collision-free and dynamically feasible trajectories. The efficiency of the proposed homotopy representation is compared against existing single and multiple tethered robot planning approaches. Simulations with up to 8 UAVs show the effectiveness of the approach in entanglement prevention and its real-time capabilities. Flight experiments using 3 tethered UAVs verify the practicality of the presented approach.

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