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Optimal Path Planning in Dynamic Environments

Speaker: Deepak Subramani
Speaker Affiliation: PhD Candidate
Department of Mechanical Engineering and CSE, MIT
Date: Thursday October 29, 2015 at 4 p.m in 3-370

A stochastic optimization methodology is formulated for computing energy-optimal paths from among time-optimal paths of autonomous vehicles navigating in a dynamic flow field. To set up the energy optimization, the relative vehicle speed and headings are considered to be stochastic, and new stochastic Dynamically Orthogonal (DO) level-set equations that govern their stochastic time-optimal reachability fronts are derived. Their solution provides the distribution of time-optimal reachability fronts and corresponding distribution of time-optimal paths. An optimization is then performed on the vehicle’s energy-time joint distribution to select the energy-optimal paths for each arrival time, among all stochastic time-optimal paths for that arrival time. The accuracy and efficiency of the DO level-set equations for solving the governing stochastic level-set reachability fronts are quantitatively assessed, including comparisons with independent semi-analytical solutions. The stochastic DO level-set equations is then extended to account for uncertainties in the flow field. Time-optimal planning is completed in a wind-driven barotropic quasi-geostrophic stochastic double-gyre ocean circulation (these stochastic flow fields are simulated using our DO Navier Stokes equations). Energy-optimal missions are studied in wind-driven barotropic quasi-geostrophic double-gyre circulations, and in realistic data-assimilative re-analyses of multiscale coastal ocean flows. The latter re-analyses are obtained from multi-resolution 2-way nested primitive-equation simulations of tidal-to-mesoscale dynamics in the Middle Atlantic Bight and Shelbreak Front region. The effects of tidal currents, strong wind events, coastal jets, and shelfbreak fronts on the energy-optimal paths are illustrated and quantified. Results showcase the opportunities for longer-duration missions that intelligently utilize the ocean environment to save energy, rigorously integrating ocean forecasting with optimal control of autonomous vehicles.