Energy efficient path planning: the effectiveness of Q-learning algorithm in saving energy

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

In this thesis the author investigated the use of a Q-learning based path planning algorithm to investigate how effective it is in saving energy. It is important to pursue any means to save energy in this day and age, due to the excessive exploitation of natural resources and in order to prevent drops in production in industrial environments where less downtime is necessary or other applications where a mobile robot running out of energy can be costly or even disastrous, such as search and rescue operations or dangerous environment navigation. The study was undertaken by implementing a Q-learning based path planning algorithm in several unstructured and unknown environments. A cell decomposition method was used to generate the search space representation of the environments, within which the algorithm operated. The results show that the Q-learning path planner paths on average consumed 3.04% less energy than the A* path planning algorithm, in a square 20% obstacle density environment. The Q-learning path planner consumed on average 5.79% more energy than the least energy paths for the same environment. In the case of rectangular environments, the Q-learning path planning algorithm uses 1.68% less energy, than the A* path algorithm and 3.26 % more energy than the least energy paths. The implication of this study is to highlight the need for the use of learning algorithm in attempting to solve problems whose existing solutions are not learning based, in order to obtain better solutions.

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