Differentially Flat Systems with Inequality Constraints: An Approach to Real-Time Feasible Trajectory Generation

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Nadim Faiz, Sunil Agrawal and Richard Murray
J. Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 219-227, 2001.

This paper proposes a real-time planning scheme and its implementation for a class of dynamic systems. The planner is aimed to satisfy the state equations, the path and actuator constriants, and the given initial and terminal constraints. In order to generate trajectories in real-time, three broad steps are performed: (1) the structure of differentially flat systems is used to explicitly encapsulate the state equations into linear differential constraints in a flat space, and appropriately transform the boundary conditions; (ii) using semi-infinite optimization theory, an inner approximation of nonlinear constraints is made to replace these by a set of linear inequalities in the flat space, i.e., by a polytope; (iii) this polytopic representation of the system that satisfies the state equations and the constraints is then parameterized using basis functions and the planning problem is turned around into solution of a set of linear inequalities in the coefficient space of the basis functions. It is then demonstrated that numerically efficient algorithms can be built to solve the planning problem in real-time. The essence of the approach is demonstrated by two examples: (1) an implementation is performed on a spring-mass-damper system to demonstrate the real-time capability of evasion-pursuit; (ii) a VTOL aircraft is used to illustrate the application of this approach in simulation to nonlinear problems.