Characterization and Computation of Feasible Trajectories for an Articulated Probe with a Variable-Length End Segment

Ovidiu Daescu, Ka Yaw Teo

An articulated probe is modeled in the plane as two line segments, $ab$ and $bc$, joined at $b$, with $ab$ being very long, and $bc$ of some small length $r$. We investigate a trajectory planning problem involving the articulated two-segment probe where the length $r$ of $bc$ can be customized. Consider a set $P$ of simple polygonal obstacles with a total of $n$ vertices, a target point $t$ located in the free space such that $t$ cannot see to infinity, and a circle $S$ centered at $t$ enclosing $P$. The probe initially resides outside $S$, with $ab$ and $bc$ being collinear, and is restricted to the following sequence of moves: a straight line insertion of $abc$ into $S$ followed by a rotation of $bc$ around $b$. The goal is to compute a feasible obstacle-avoiding trajectory for the probe so that, after the sequence of moves, $c$ coincides with $t$. We prove that, for $n$ line segment obstacles, the smallest length $r$ for which there exists a feasible probe trajectory can be found in $O(n^{2+\epsilon})$ time using $O(n^{2+\epsilon})$ space, for any constant $\epsilon > 0$. Furthermore, we prove that all values $r$ for which a feasible probe trajectory exists form $O(n^2)$ intervals, and can be computed in $O(n^{5/2})$ time using $O(n^{2+\epsilon})$ space. We also show that, for a given $r$, the feasible trajectory space of the articulated probe can be characterized by a simple arrangement of complexity $O(n^2)$, which can be constructed in $O(n^2)$ time. To obtain our solutions, we design efficient data structures for a number of interesting variants of geometric intersection and emptiness query problems.

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