Probabilistic obstacle avoidance and object following: An overlap of Gaussians approach

Dhaivat Bhatt*1    Akash Garg*2    Bharath Gopalakrishnan1    K. Madhava Krishna1   

1 IIIT Hyderabad, India    2 Delhi Technological University   

Autonomous navigation and obstacle avoidance are core capabilities that enable robots to execute tasks in the real world. We propose a new approach to collision avoidance that accounts for uncertainty in the states of the agent and the obstacles. We first demonstrate that measures of entropy used in current approaches for uncertainty-aware obstacle avoidance—are an inappropriate design choice. We then propose an algorithm that solves an optimal control sequence with a guaranteed risk bound, using a measure of overlap between the two distributions that represent the state of the robot and the obstacle, respectively. Furthermore, we provide closed form expressions that can characterize the overlap as a function of the control input. The proposed approach enables model predictive control framework to generate bounded-confidence control commands. An extensive set of simulations have been conducted in various constrained environments in order to demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed approach over the prior art. We demonstrate the usefulness of the proposed scheme under tight spaces where computing risk-sensitive control maneuvers is vital. We also show how this framework generalizes to other problems, such as object-following.