Probabilistic Planning for Continuous Dynamic Systems under Bounded Risk

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This paper presents a model-based planner called the Probabilistic Sulu Planner or the p-Sulu Planner, which controls stochastic systems in a goal directed manner within user-specified risk bounds. The objective of the p-Sulu Planner is to allow users to command continuous, stochastic systems, such as unmanned aerial and space vehicles, in a manner that is both intuitive and safe. To this end, we first develop a new plan representation called a chance-constrained qualitative state plan (CCQSP), through which users can specify the desired evolution of the plant state as well as the acceptable level of risk. An example of a CCQSP statement is ``go to A through B within 30 minutes, with less than 0.001% probability of failure." We then develop the p-Sulu Planner, which can tractably solve a CCQSP planning problem. In order to enable CCQSP planning, we develop the following two capabilities in this paper: 1) risk-sensitive planning with risk bounds, and 2) goal-directed planning in a continuous domain with temporal constraints. The first capability is to ensures that the probability of failure is bounded. The second capability is essential for the planner to solve problems with a continuous state space such as vehicle path planning. We demonstrate the capabilities of the p-Sulu Planner by simulations on two real-world scenarios: the path planning and scheduling of a personal aerial vehicle as well as the space rendezvous of an autonomous cargo spacecraft.

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