Time-optimal trajectories with bounded curvature in anisotropic media

Irina S. Dolinskaya*, Alvaro Maggiar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


This paper characterizes time-optimal trajectories in anisotropic (direction-dependent) environments where path curvatures are bounded by the inverse of the minimum-turning radius of a mobile agent. Such problems are often faced in the navigation of aerial, ground and naval vehicles when a mobile agent cannot instantaneously change its heading angle. The work presented is a generalization of the Dubins car problem, which considers the fastest paths with bounded curvature while assuming constant speed and minimum-turning radius. We relax this assumption and discuss fastest-path finding problems for the generalized direction-dependent speed and minimum-turning radius functions, to account for the effects of waves, winds and slope of the terrain on the agent's motions. We establish that there exists an optimal path such that it is a portion of a path of the type CSCSC where C denotes a sharpest-turn curve and S a straight-line segment. We further analyze a special case wherein the speed polar plot is convex, and show that in that case there exists an optimal path with the same structure as for the Dubins problem: CCC or CSC. An algorithm that implements our results for the convex speed polar plot is also presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1761-1793
Number of pages33
JournalInternational Journal of Robotics Research
Issue number14
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Dubins vehicle
  • Nonholonomic motion planning
  • anisotropic environment
  • optimal control
  • optimal path finding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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