Abstract

Experimental results of the optical calculation of potential-field maps suitable for mobile robot navigation are presented and described. The optical computation employs two write modes of a microchannel spatial light modulator. In one mode, written patterns expand spatially, and this characteristic is used to create an extended two-dimensional function representing the influence of the goal in a robot’s workspace. Distinct obstacle patterns are written in a second, nonexpanding, mode. A model of the mechanisms determining microchannel spatial light modulator write-mode characteristics is developed and used to derive the optical calculation time for full potential-field maps. Field calculations at a few hertz are possible with current technology, and calculation time versus map size scales favorably in comparison with digital electronic computation.

© 1994 Optical Society of America

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