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Accelerating Motion Planning via Optimal Transport

An T. Le · Georgia Chalvatzaki · Armin Biess · Jan Peters

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #431
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[ Paper [ Slides [ Poster [ OpenReview
Tue 12 Dec 3:15 p.m. PST — 5:15 p.m. PST


Motion planning is still an open problem for many disciplines, e.g., robotics, autonomous driving, due to their need for high computational resources that hinder real-time, efficient decision-making. A class of methods striving to provide smooth solutions is gradient-based trajectory optimization. However, those methods usually suffer from bad local minima, while for many settings, they may be inapplicable due to the absence of easy-to-access gradients of the optimization objectives. In response to these issues, we introduce Motion Planning via Optimal Transport (MPOT)---a \textit{gradient-free} method that optimizes a batch of smooth trajectories over highly nonlinear costs, even for high-dimensional tasks, while imposing smoothness through a Gaussian Process dynamics prior via the planning-as-inference perspective. To facilitate batch trajectory optimization, we introduce an original zero-order and highly-parallelizable update rule----the Sinkhorn Step, which uses the regular polytope family for its search directions. Each regular polytope, centered on trajectory waypoints, serves as a local cost-probing neighborhood, acting as a \textit{trust region} where the Sinkhorn Step ``transports'' local waypoints toward low-cost regions. We theoretically show that Sinkhorn Step guides the optimizing parameters toward local minima regions of non-convex objective functions. We then show the efficiency of MPOT in a range of problems from low-dimensional point-mass navigation to high-dimensional whole-body robot motion planning, evincing its superiority compared to popular motion planners, paving the way for new applications of optimal transport in motion planning.

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