Path Planning for Deformable Linear Objects

M. Moll and L. E. Kavraki, “Path Planning for Deformable Linear Objects,” IEEE Transactions on Robotics, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 625–636, Aug. 2006.


We present a new approach to path planning for deformable linear (one-dimensional) objects such as flexible wires. We introduce a method for efficiently computing stable configurations of a wire subject to manipulation constraints. These configurations correspond to minimal-energy curves. By restricting the planner to minimal-energy curves, the execution of a path becomes easier. Our curve representation is adaptive in the sense that the number of parameters automatically varies with the complexity of the underlying curve. We introduce a planner that computes paths from one minimal-energy curve to another such that all intermediate curves are also minimal-energy curves. This planner can be used as a powerful local planner in a sampling-based roadmap method. This makes it possible to compute a roadmap of the entire “shape space,” which is not possible with previous approaches. Using a simplified model for obstacles, we can find minimal-energy curves of fixed length that pass through specified tangents at given control points. Our work has applications in cable routing, and motion planning for surgical suturing and snake-like robots.