Repository logo

Path planning for autonomous aerial vehicles using Monte Carlo tree search


Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, are widely used in civilian and defense applications, such as search and rescue operations, monitoring and surveillance, and aerial photography. This dissertation focuses on autonomous UAVs for tracking mobile ground targets. Our approach builds on optimization-based artificial intelligence for path planning by calculating approximately optimal trajectories. This approach poses a number of challenges, including the need to search over large solution spaces in real-time. To address these challenges, we adopt a technique involving a rapidly-exploring random tree (RRT) and Monte Carlo tree search (MCTS). The RRT technique increases in computational cost as we increase the number of mobile targets and the complexity of the dynamics. Our MCTS approach executes a tree search based on random sampling to generate trajectories in real time. We develop a variant of MCTS for online path-planning to track ground targets together with an associated algorithm called P-UAV. Our algorithm is based on the framework of partially observable Monte Carlo planning, originally developed in the context of MCTS for Markov decision processes. Our real-time approach exploits a parallel-computing strategy with a heuristic random-sampling process. In our framework, We explicitly incorporate threat evasion, obstacle collision avoidance, and resilience to wind. The approach embodies an exploration-exploitation tradeoff in seeking a near-optimal solution in spite of the huge search space. We provide simulation results to demonstrate the effectiveness of our path-planning method.


Rights Access


Monte Carlo tree search
partially observable Markov decision processes (POMDP)
unmanned aerial vehicles
online path planning
artificial intelligence (AI)
path planning


Associated Publications