Rectilinear Path Following in 3D Space

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Abstract

This paper addresses the problem of determining an optimal (shortest) path in three dimensional space for a constant speed and turn-rate constrained aerial vehicle, that would enable the vehicle to converge to a rectilinear path, starting from any arbitrary initial position and orientation. Based on 3D geometry, we propose an optimal and also a suboptimal path planning approach. Unlike the existing numerical methods which are computationally intensive, this optimal geometrical method generates an optimal solution in lesser time. The suboptimal solution approach is comparatively more efficient and gives a solution that is very close to the optimal one. Due to its simplicity and low computational requirements this approach can be implemented on an aerial vehicle with constrained turn radius to reach a straight line with a prescribed orientation as required in several applications. But, if the distance between the initial point and the straight line to be followed along the vertical axis is high, then the generated path may not be flyable for an aerial vehicle with limited range of flight path angle and we resort to a numerical method for obtaining the optimal solution. The numerical method used here for simulation is based on multiple shooting and is found to be comparatively more efficient than other methods for solving such two point boundary value problem.