Manipulation Planning with Workspace Goal Regions

We present an approach to path planning for manipulators that uses Workspace Goal Regions (WGRs) to specify goal end-effector poses. Instead of specifying a discrete set of goals in the manipulator's configuration space, we specify goals more intuitively as volumes in the manipulator's workspace. We show that WGRs provide a common framework for describing goal regions that are useful for grasping and manipulation. We also describe two randomized planning algorithms capable of planning with WGRs. The first is an extension of RRT-JT that interleaves exploration using a Rapidly-exploring Random Tree (RRT) with exploitation using Jacobian-based gradient descent toward WGR samples. The second is the IKBiRRT algorithm, which uses a forward-searching tree rooted at the start and a backward-searching tree that is seeded by WGR samples. We demonstrate both simulation and experimental results for a 7DOF WAM arm with a mobile base performing reaching and pick-and-place tasks. Our results show that planning with WGRs provides an intuitive and powerful method of specifying goals for a variety of tasks without sacrificing efficiency or desirable completeness properties.