, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 193-203
Date: 31 Oct 2012

Feasible path planning for fixed-wing UAVs using seventh order Bézier curves

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This study presents a novel methodology for generating smooth feasible paths for autonomous aerial vehicles in the three-dimensional space based on a variation of the Spatial Quintic Pythagorean Hodographs curves. Generated paths must satisfy three main constraints: (i) maximum curvature, (ii) maximum torsion and (iii) maximum climb (or dive) angle. A given path is considered to be feasible if the main kinematic constraints of the vehicle are not violated, which is accomplished in our approach by connecting different waypoints with seventh order Bézier curves. This also indirectly insures the smoothness of the vehicle’s acceleration profile between two consecutive points of the curve and of the entire path by controlling the curvature values at the extreme points of each composing Bézier curve segment. The computation of the Pythagorean Hodograph is cast as an optimization problem, for which we provide an algorithm with fast convergence to the final result. The proposed methodology is applicable to vehicles in three-dimensional environments, which can be modeled presuming the imposed constraints. Our methodology is validated in simulation with real parameters and simulated flight data of a small autonomous aerial vehicle.