Motion primitives and 3D path planning for fast flight through a forest

Aditya A. Paranjape, Kevin C. Meier, Xichen Shi, Soon Jo Chung, Seth Hutchinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents two families of motion primitives for enabling fast, agile flight through a dense obstacle field. The first family of primitives consists of a time-delay dependent 3D circular path between two points in space and the control inputs required to fly the path. In particular, the control inputs are calculated using algebraic equations which depend on the flight parameters and the location of the waypoint. Moreover, the transition between successive maneuver states, where each state is defined by a unique combination of constant control inputs, is modeled rigorously as an instantaneous switch between the two maneuver states following a time delay which is directly related to the agility of the robotic aircraft. The second family consists of aggressive turn-around (ATA) maneuvers which the robot uses to retreat from impenetrable pockets of obstacles. The ATA maneuver consists of an orchestrated sequence of three sets of constant control inputs. The duration of the first segment is used to optimize the ATA for the spatial constraints imposed by the turning volume. The motion primitives are validated experimentally and implemented in a simulated receding horizon control (RHC)-based motion planner. The paper concludes with inverse-design pointers derived from the primitives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-377
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Robotics Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 15 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerial robotics
  • bio-inspired flight
  • flight control
  • motion primitives
  • online path planning
  • optimal control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Applied Mathematics


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