Delft University of Technology
Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering
Transport Technology / Logistic Engineering

M. Coopman Motion planning; the potential field method.
Computer program, Report 95.3.LT.4545, Transport Technology, Logistic Engineering.

Motion planning is planning the motion of an object - a robot for example - through a area filled with obstacles. Many algorithms have been designed to do this, each varying in complexity and applicability. One of these algorithms is the potential field method, especially appraised for it's property of avoiding the obstacles at a maximum distance.

An object, a point or a more complex form, is expected to manoeuvre in an environment where the obstacles have been predefined. Different requirements can be made: shortest route, collision avoidance or speed of calculation.

The potential field is made up of repulsion forces by the obstacles, inversely proportional to the distance to the object, and a goal attraction and start repulsion force. The object experiences these forces and is 'pushed' and 'pulled' from its starting point to its goal. These potential values of a two dimensional problem can be visualized as a landscape where high potential areas are drawn as hills and the goal is the lowest valley. The object can be seen as a ball 'rolling' down the landscape towards its destination.

This program is written in Visual Basic in order to provide extra user-friendliness. It has been compiled into an executabie file which can be started from the Windows-shell. An easy to use editor is also provided so that the user can enter any obstacle configuration he wishes.

Reports on Logistic Engineering (in Dutch)
Modified: 2000.02.28; , TU Delft / 3mE / TT / LT.