Path planning using a potential field representation

Yong Hwang, Narendra Ahuja

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Findpath problem is the problem of moving an object to the desired position and orientation while avoiding obstacles. The authors present an approach to this problem using a potential-field representation of obstacles. A potential function similar to the electrostatic potential is assigned to each obstacle, and the topological structure of the free space is derived in the form of minimum potential valleys. A path specified by a subset of valley segments and associated object orientations, which minimizes a heuristic estimate of path length and the chance of collision, is selected as the initial guess of the solution. Then, the selected path as well as the orientation of the moving object along the path are modified to minimize the cost of the path, which is defined as a weighted sum of the path length, required orientation changes during the motion, and the chance of collision along the path. Findpath problems possessing three different levels of difficulty are identified. Path optimization is performed in up to three stages, according to the level of difficulty of the problem. These three stages are addressed by three separate algorithms which are automatically selected. The performance of the algorithms is illustrated on a variety of two- and three-dimensional problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProc IEEE Comput Soc Conf Comput Vision Pattern Recognit
Editors Anon
PublisherPubl by IEEE
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 1989
EventProceedings: IEEE Computer Society Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition - Rosemont, IL, USA
Duration: Jun 6 1989Jun 9 1989


OtherProceedings: IEEE Computer Society Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
CityRosemont, IL, USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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