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Obstacle Avoidance

Obstacle avoidance is one of the most important aspects of mobile robotics. Without it robot movement would be very restrictive and fragile. This tutorial explains several ways to accomplish the task of obstacle avoidance within the home environment. Given your own robots you can experiment with the provided techniques to see which one works best.

There are many techniques that can be used for obstacle avoidance. The best technique for you will depend on your specific environment and what equipment you have available. We will first start with simpler techniques that are easy to get running and can be experimented on to improve their quality based on your environment.

Let's get started by first looking at an indoor scene that a mobile robot may encounter.

Robot View

Here the robot is placed on the carpet and faced with a couple obstacles. The following algorithms will refer to aspects of this images and exploit attributes that are common in obstacle avoidance scenarios. For example, the ground plane assumption states that the robot is placed on a relatively flat ground (i.e. no offroading for these robots!) and that the camera is placed looking relatively straight ahead or slightly down (but not up towards the ceiling).

By looking at this image we can see that the carpet is more or less a single color with the obstacles being different in many ways than the ground plane (or carpet).

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