Differential Flatness-Based Trajectory Planning for Autonomous Vehicles

IEEE Trans. Intell. Transp. Syst.(2022)

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As a core part of autonomous driving systems, motion planning has received extensive attention from academia and industry. However, there is no efficient trajectory planning solution capable of spatial-temporal joint optimization due to nonholonomic dynamics, particularly in the presence of unstructured environments and dynamic obstacles. To bridge the gap, we propose a versatile and real-time trajectory optimization method that can generate a high-quality feasible trajectory using a full vehicle model under arbitrary constraints. By leveraging the differential flatness property of car-like robots, we use flat outputs to analytically formulate all feasibility constraints to simplify the trajectory planning problem. Moreover, obstacle avoidance is achieved with full dimensional polygons to generate less conservative trajectories with safety guarantees, especially in tightly constrained spaces. We present comprehensive benchmarks with cutting-edge methods, demonstrating the significance of the proposed method in terms of efficiency and trajectory quality. Real-world experiments verify the practicality of our algorithm. We will release our codes as open-source packages with the purpose for the reference of the research community.
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