Navigation and exploration in 3D environments is still a challenging task for autonomous robots that move on the ground. Robots for Search and Rescue missions must deal with unstructured and very complex scenarios. This paper presents a path planning system for navigation and exploration of ground robots in such situations. We use (unordered) point clouds as the main sensory input without building any explicit representation of the environment from them. These 3D points are employed as space samples by an Optimal-RRTplanner (RRT ∗ ) to compute safe and efficient paths. The use of an objective function for path construction and the natural exploratory behaviour of the RRT ∗ planner make it appropriate for the tasks. The approach is evaluated in different simulations showing the viability of autonomous navigation and exploration in complex 3D scenarios.
exploration; mobile robotics; navigation; path planning; point clouds; search and rescue robots