Communications in Information and Systems

Volume 8 (2008)

Number 4

Computational Geometric Optimal Control of Rigid Bodies

Pages: 445 – 472



Taeyoung Lee

Melvin Leok

N. Harris McClamroch


This paper formulates optimal control problems for rigid bodies in a geometric manner and it presents computational procedures based on this geometric formulation for numerically solving these optimal control problems. The dynamics of each rigid body is viewed as evolving on a configuration manifold that is a Lie group. Discrete-time dynamics of each rigid body are developed that evolve on the configuration manifold according to a discrete version of Hamilton's principle so that the computations preserve geometric features of the dynamics and guarantee evolution on the configuration manifold; these discrete-time dynamics are referred to as Lie group variational integrators. Rigid body optimal control problems are formulated as discrete-time optimization problems for discrete Lagrangian/Hamiltonian dynamics, to which standard numerical optimization algorithms can be applied. This general approach is illustrated by presenting results for several different optimal control problems for a single rigid body and for multiple interacting rigid bodies. The computational advantages of the approach, that arise from correctly modeling the geometry, are discussed.

Published 1 January 2008