RAMP: Hierarchical Reactive Motion Planning for Manipulation Tasks Using Implicit Signed Distance Functions


International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS)



Research Areas


We introduce Reactive Action and Motion Planner (RAMP), which combines the strengths of search-based and reactive approaches for motion planning. In essence, RAMP is a hierarchical approach where a novel variant of a Model Predictive Path Integral (MPPI) controller is used to generate trajectories which are then followed asynchronously by a local vector field controller. We demonstrate, in the context of a table clearing application, that RAMP can rapidly find paths in the robot's configuration space, satisfy task and robot-specific constraints, and provide safety by reacting to static or dynamically moving obstacles. RAMP achieves superior performance through a number of key innovations: we use Signed Distance Function (SDF) representations directly from the robot configuration space, both for collision checking and reactive control. The use of SDFs allows for a smoother definition of collision cost when planning for a trajectory, and is critical in ensuring safety while following trajectories. In addition, we introduce a novel variant of MPPI which, combined with the safety guarantees of the vector field trajectory follower, performs incremental real-time global trajectory planning. Simulation results establish that our method can generate paths that are comparable to traditional and state-of-the-art approaches in terms of total trajectory length while being up to 30 times faster. Real-world experiments demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of our approach in challenging table clearing scenarios.