Robots avoid dead ends using lidar and AR

Researchers from Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun have demonstrated a path-planning algorithm that allows mobile robots to avoid becoming stuck in dead ends – a phenomenon familiar to users of robot vacuum cleaners.

Despite robots being largely used in predictable, organised environments such as warehouses and factories, they can still find their path blocked. According to Professor Tomasz Tarczewski, their main problem is running into dead ends, causing them to enter and exit unhelpful paths, wasting energy and time. One way to solve this problem is to implement local path-planning algorithms to ease avoidance of obstacles, making it possible for the robot to unblock itself autonomously and continue with its task.

This required Tarczewski and colleagues to introduce a lidar sensor to their robots. Lidar sensors, used widely in technologies such as autonomous vehicles, use reflected pulses of laser light to measure the distance between a subject and objects in its environment.

Combination of path-planning algorithm, lidar and AR forms the basis of the Nicolaus Copernicus University researchers’ platform for preventing robots becoming stuck.

The team of researchers implemented the platform in a mobile robot (Husarion ROSbot 2.0 PRO) and conducted a series of laboratory tests to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed solution. According to a statement from the university, the results are “very promising”; the researchers demonstrated a significant improvement in the properties of the potential fields algorithm commonly used in mobile robotics.

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