Group Marching Tree: Sampling-Based Approximately Optimal Motion Planning on GPUs

Brian Ichter, Edward Schmerling, Marco Pavone
Aeronautics & Astronautics, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305
arXiv:1705.02403 [cs.RO], (5 May 2017)


   title={Group Marching Tree: Sampling-Based Approximately Optimal Motion Planning on GPUs},

   author={Ichter, Brian and Schmerling, Edward and Pavone, Marco},






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This paper presents a novel approach, named the Group Marching Tree (GMT*) algorithm, to planning on GPUs at rates amenable to application within control loops, allowing planning in real-world settings via repeated computation of near-optimal plans. GMT*, like the Fast Marching Tree (FMT) algorithm, explores the state space with a "lazy" dynamic programming recursion on a set of samples to grow a tree of near-optimal paths. GMT*, however, alters the approach of FMT with approximate dynamic programming by expanding, in parallel, the group of all active samples with cost below an increasing threshold, rather than only the minimum cost sample. This group approximation enables low-level parallelism over the sample set and removes the need for sequential data structures, while the "lazy" collision checking limits thread divergence—all contributing to a very efficient GPU implementation. While this approach incurs some suboptimality, we prove that GMT* remains asymptotically optimal up to a constant multiplicative factor. We show solutions for complex planning problems under differential constraints can be found in ~10 ms on a desktop GPU and ~30 ms on an embedded GPU, representing a significant speed up over the state of the art, with only small losses in performance. Finally, we present a scenario demonstrating the efficacy of planning within the control loop (~100 Hz) towards operating in dynamic, uncertain settings.
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