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Volume 2018, Article ID 4359036, 17 pages
Research Article

Smooth Path Planning for Robot Docking in Unknown Environment with Obstacles

1Research & Development Institute of Northwestern Polytechnical University in Shenzhen, Shenzhen, Guangdong 518057, China
2School of Marine Science and Technology, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an, Shaanxi 710072, China
3School of Automation and Electrical Engineering, Shenyang Ligong University, Shenyang, Liaoning 110159, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Weisheng Yan; nc.ude.upwn@naysw

Received 8 July 2018; Accepted 26 September 2018; Published 8 November 2018

Guest Editor: Zhaojie Ju

Copyright © 2018 Peng Cui et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper presents an integrated approach to plan smooth path for robots docking in unknown environments with obstacles. To determine the smooth collision-free path in obstacle environment, a tree structure with heuristic expanding strategy is designed as the foundation of path planning in this approach. The tree employs 3D Dubins curves as its branches and foundation for path feasibility evaluation. For the efficiency of the tree expanding in obstacle environment, intermediate nodes and collision-free branches are determined inspired by the elastic band theory. A feasible path is chosen as the shortest series of branches that connects to the docking station after the sufficient expansion of the tree. Simulation results are presented to show the validity and feasibility of the proposed approach.