Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2074-2.ch001
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The basic purpose of the book is to specifically look into the problem of robot planning, which is an essential problem in robotics. Before the authors discuss the simple and complex algorithms, analyze the same, present the various modeling scenarios, and present some results and associated limitations, tradeoffs, and issues, it is wise to first understand the basics of robotics. The adoption of Artificial Intelligence in robotics is a never-ending effort, a part of which is the crux of the book. It is important to understand the notion of problem of path planning and where and how it fits into the entire domain of robotics. The chapter is an introduction to the entire book and gives an overview of all the background needed, including the underlying problem of motion planning of mobile robotics. In other words, this chapter gives a broader view of the complete system, a part of which, will be looked at in intensive details in this book.
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Robotics is a very exciting field, which continues to be of great interest to people. The wide variety of applications of robotics is a natural motivator for people to study this domain and contribute to the same. To build highly sophisticated and intelligent robots that would change the face of society is the aim for everyone working in this domain. The complete domain is highly multi-disciplinary and involves people from various disciples and backgrounds. Building a complete robot and enabling it to work in real life scenarios would involve expertise in a large number of fields of study. The problem includes the design of good robot hardware, as per the terrain and domain of work. This calls for expertise in mechanical disciples along with design skills.

The communication of the robot with sensors calls for expertise in the disciples of electronics and communications, along with wireless technologies, if the robot has wireless components. The motor manipulation may further need a lot of electrical and electronic stuff that enables the robot to act to situations. Proper planning and understanding of the situation, of course, requires expertise in pattern recognition, artificial intelligence, knowledge modeling, etc. The robots may be specific to a field of work that forms the grounds of their applications. This puts further constraints of expertise as per the task that they are asked to perform.

The desire to have someone do specific tasks for us has always been a need of humanity. This is why machines have started doing many jobs that the humans once did. The use of robots is not new to society. A lot of effort has always been made, which has become a constant move to automation and industrialization. These robots could always do simple tasks. The desire to do a lot more than just having simple robots as machines kept motivating people to make the field more sophisticated.

A parallel development was in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) (Brunette, et al., 2009; Konar, 2000). The scientists made continuous efforts to make the machines or systems as intelligent as possible. The effort was to enable the machines to have the same intelligence as humans. A large part of it was considered impossible in the beginning and attributed to less computational power, less memory, no networking, etc. However, the scenario continuously changed as computation started becoming inexpensive and available in abundance. This made a revolution that bore fruits in every domain. Soon the systems started getting more intelligent and sophisticated. These systems that we use today can perform a variety of tasks that include biometric recognition and verification, automatic biomedical diagnosis, data mining, time series prediction, etc.

AI merges beautifully with the conventional field of robotics (Kaelbling, et al., 1988; Mital, et al., 1988; Murphy, 2000). This gives rise to what we know as intelligent robotics. These robots are able to act on their own without intervention from humans. They are smart and make their own decisions. These decisions may be overseen or assisted by some human expert, if desired. The combination of AI and robotics is seen as a beautiful thing. All robots, to some extent, are fitted with some intelligence that has its basis in AI. AI-based robots started from basic architectures or basic intelligence, which could just move around and perform a small set of tasks. Today, these robots carry out all sorts of tasks. These robots outperform humans in various kinds of tasks in terms of efficiency and accuracy. This book emphasizes, specifically, these intelligent robots, and it deals with the issue of how these robots may be intelligently planned.

The chapter is organized as follows. First, we study some of the commonly used terminologies and concepts in robotics, which explain our precise ground work. We also discuss some of the application areas of robotics. We then deal with the general principle of problem solving in robotics. We then migrate to what is the chief point of concern of the book. Here, we would explain the problem of motion planning in robotics. We further advance the text with a discussion to types of planning, which are followed by some general AI concepts. Towards the end, we present some related topics for better understanding of the complete domain and problems. This includes expert systems and machine learning. This is followed by concluding remarks.

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