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Vision-Guided Exploration: A Step toward General Motion Planning in Three Dimensions
K. N. Kutulakos, V. J. Lumelsky, and C. R. Dyer, Proc. 1993 IEEE Int. Conf. on Robotics and Automation, 1993, 289-296.


We present an approach for solving the path planning problem for a mobile robot operating in an unknown, three dimensional environment containing obstacles of arbitrary shape. The main contributions of this paper are (1) an analysis of the type of sensing information that is necessary and sufficient for solving the path planning problem in such environments, and (2) the development of a framework for designing a provably-correct algorithm to solve this problem. Working from first principles, without any assumptions about the environment of the robot or its sensing capabilities, our analysis shows that the ability to explore the obstacle surfaces (i.e., to make all their points visible) is intrinsically linked with the ability to plan the motion of the robot. We argue that current approaches to the path planning problem with incomplete information simply do not extend to the general three-dimensional case, and that qualitatively different algorithms are needed.