RAMP: Hierarchical Reactive Motion Planning for Manipulation Tasks Using Implicit Signed Distance Functions


We introduce Reactive Action and Motion Planner (RAMP), which combines the strengths of search-based and reactive approaches for motion planning. In essence, RAMP is a hierarchical approach where a novel variant of a Model Predictive Path Integral (MPPI) controller is used to generate trajectories which are then followed asynchronously by a local vector field controller. We demonstrate, in the context of a table clearing application, that RAMP can rapidly find paths in the robot’s configuration space, satisfy task and robot-specific constraints, and provide safety by reacting to static or dynamically moving obstacles. RAMP achieves superior performance through a number of key innovations: we use Signed Distance Function (SDF) representations directly from the robot configuration space, both for collision checking and reactive control. The use of SDFs allows for a smoother definition of collision cost when planning for a trajectory, and is critical in ensuring safety while following trajectories. In addition, we introduce a novel variant of MPPI which, combined with the safety guarantees of the vector field trajectory follower, performs incremental real-time global trajectory planning. Simulation results establish that our method can generate paths that are comparable to traditional and state-of-the-art approaches in terms of total trajectory length while being up to 30 times faster. Real-world experiments demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of our approach in challenging table clearing scenarios.

In IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems
Vasileios Vasilopoulos
Vasileios Vasilopoulos
Research Scientist