The bridge test for sampling narrow passages with probabilistic roadmap planners
Probabilistic roadmap (PRM) planners have been successful in path planning of robots with many degrees of freedom, but narrow passages in a robot's configuration space create significant difficulty for PRM planners. This paper presents a hybrid sampling strategy in the PRM framework for finding paths through narrow passages. A key ingredient of the new strategy is the bridge test, which boosts the sampling density inside narrow passages. The bridge test relies on simple tests of local geometry and can be implemented efficiently in high-dimensional configuration spaces. The strengths of the bridge test and uniform sampling complement each other naturally and are combined to generate the final hybrid sampling strategy. Our planner was tested on point robots and articulated robots in planar workspaces. Preliminary experiments show that the hybrid sampling strategy enables relatively small roadmaps to reliably capture the connectivity of configuration spaces with difficult narrow passages.