Self-Driving Aircraft Towing Vehicles: A Preliminary Report

AAAI Conferences

We introduce an application of self-driving vehicle technology to the problem of towing aircraft at busy airports from gate to runway and runway to gate. Autonomous towing can be supervised by human ramp- or ATC controllers, pilots, or ground crew. The controllers provide route information to the tugs, assisted by an automated route planning system. The planning system and tower and ground controllers work in conjunction with the tugs to make tactical decisions during operations to ensure safe and effective taxiing in a highly dynamic environment. We argue here for the potential for significantly reducing fuel emissions, fuel costs, and community noise, while addressing the added complexity of air terminal operations by increasing efficiency and reducing human workload. This paper describes work-in-progress for developing concepts and capabilities for autonomous engines-off taxiing using towing vehicles.


Morris

AAAI Conferences

This paper explores the problem of managing movements of aircraft along the surface of busy airports. Airport surface management is a complex logistics problem involving the coordination of humans and machines. The work described here arose from the idea that autonomous towing vehicles for taxiing aircraft could offer a solution to the'capacity problem' for busy airports, the problem of getting more efficient use of existing surface area to meet increasing demand. Supporting autonomous surface operations requires continuous planning, scheduling and monitoring of operations, as well as systems for optimizing complex human-machine interaction. We identify a set of computational subproblems of the surface management problem that would benefit from recent advances in multi-agent planning and scheduling and probabilistic predictive modeling, and discuss preliminary work at integrating these components into a prototype of a surface management system.


Multi-Agent Path Finding with Deadlines: Preliminary Results

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

We formalize the problem of multi-agent path finding with deadlines (MAPF-DL). The objective is to maximize the number of agents that can reach their given goal vertices from their given start vertices within a given deadline, without colliding with each other. We first show that the MAPF-DL problem is NP-hard to solve optimally. We then present an optimal MAPF-DL algorithm based on a reduction of the MAPF-DL problem to a flow problem and a subsequent compact integer linear programming formulation of the resulting reduced abstracted multi-commodity flow network.


Morris

AAAI Conferences

We introduce an application of self-driving vehicle technology to the problem of towing aircraft at busy airports from gate to runway and runway to gate. Autonomous towing can be supervised by human ramp- or ATC controllers, pilots, or ground crew. The controllers provide route information to the tugs, assisted by an automated route planning system. The planning system and tower and ground controllers work in conjunction with the tugs to make tactical decisions during operations to ensure safe and effective taxiing in a highly dynamic environment. We argue here for the potential for significantly reducing fuel emissions, fuel costs, and community noise, while addressing the added complexity of air terminal operations by increasing efficiency and reducing human workload. This paper describes work-in-progress for developing concepts and capabilities for autonomous engines-off taxiing using towing vehicles.


Multi-Agent Path Finding with Kinematic Constraints

AAAI Conferences

Multi-Agent Path Finding (MAPF) is well studied in both AI and robotics. Given a discretized environment and agents with assigned start and goal locations, MAPF solvers from AI find collision-free paths for hundreds of agents with user-provided sub-optimality guarantees. However, they ignore that actual robots are subject to kinematic constraints (such as finite maximum velocity limits) and suffer from imperfect plan-execution capabilities. We therefore introduce MAPF-POST, a novel approach that makes use of a simple temporal network to postprocess the output of a MAPF solver in polynomial time to create a plan-execution schedule that can be executed on robots. This schedule works on non-holonomic robots, takes their maximum translational and rotational velocities into account, provides a guaranteed safety distance between them, and exploits slack to absorb imperfect plan executions and avoid time-intensive replanning in many cases. We evaluate MAPF-POST in simulation and on differential-drive robots, showcasing the practicality of our approach.