Enabling Faster, More Capable Robots With Real-Time Motion Planning

IEEE Spectrum

Hardware-based motion planning that operates in under a millisecond makes robots both safer and more versatile

This is a guest post. The views expressed here are solely those of the authors and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

Despite decades of expectations that we will have dexterous robots performing sophisticated tasks in the house and elsewhere, the use of robots remains painfully limited, largely due to insufficient motion-planning performance. Motion planning is the process of determining how to move a robot, or autonomous vehicle, from its current configuration (or pose) to a desired goal configuration: For example, how to reach into a fridge to grab a soda can while avoiding obstacles, like the other items in the fridge and the fridge itself. Until recently, this critical process has been implemented in software running on high-performance commodity hardware. The problem is that this software takes multiple seconds, precluding the deployment of robots in dynamic environments or environments with humans. At Realtime Robotics, we have developed special-purpose hardware to solve motion planning in under a millisecond, greatly expanding the range of tasks that robots will soon be able to complete.

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