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Two novel approaches for unmanned underwater vehicle path planning: constrained optimisation and semi-infinite constrained optimisation

Yongji  Wang a1, David M.  Lane a2 and Gavin J.  Falconer a2
a1 Centre for Systems and Control, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Glasgow University, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland, (UK) E-mail:
a2 Ocean Systems Laboratory, Department of Computing & Electrical Engineering, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, EH14 5AS, Scotland, (UK): E-mail:,


In this paper, two novel approaches to unmanned underwater vehicle path planning are presented. The main idea of the first approach, referred to as Constrained Optimisation (CO) is to represent the free space of the workspace as a set of inequality constraints using vehicle configuration variables. The second approach converts robot path planning into a Semi-infinite Constrained Optimisation (SCO) problem. The function interpolation technique is adopted to satisfy the start and goal configuration requirements. Mathematical foundations for Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG), Boolean operations and approximation techniques are also presented to reduce the number of constraints, and to avoid local minima. The advantages of these approaches are that the mature techniques developed in optimisation theory which guarantee convergence, efficiency and numerical robustness can be directly applied to the robot path planning problem. Simulation results have been presented.

(Received July 31 1999)

Key Words: Robotics, Autonomous underwater vehicle; path planning; obstacle avoidance; Non-linear programming; Semi-infinite constrained optimisation.